Phraya Pichai is the pseudonym used by a 1971-born Thai computer programmer from Bangkok. Phraya Pichai is often referred to as a blogger, but in fact he was a frequent user as well as an administrator of web-boards. There he openly criticized King Bhumipol, though in Thailand lèse majesté can be punished with a jail sentence up to 15 years.
On August 24, 2007 Phraya Pichai was among the two first netizens to be arrested under Thailand’s new Computer-related Crimes Act, which came into effect on 18 July 2007. He got arrested under Section 14 (1) and (2) of the act: “Use of a computer to propagate false information, affecting national security and causing public unrest” ((FACT » Charges against cyber dissidents withdrawn – no victory for free expression)). Phraya Pichai was first imprisoned at Police Crime Suppression Division office before being transferred to the remand prison on August 30.
Only on September 1, 2007 a government speaker told the British “Financial Times” that two people were held in Thailand for breaking the newly invented Computer-related Crimes Act, but still their names stayed undisclosed ((Free Pichai » Thai news site confirms first arrest)). The next day, Thailand’s minister for Information and Communications Technology, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, denied to know about the detention of any citizens under the computer-related crime act ((The Nation » Arrests reported for cyber crime)).
On September 4, Thai news site Prachatai identified one of the prisoners as the 36-year old computer programmer and web administrator commonly known as “Phraya Pichai” on the internet ((Prachatai » Quiet arrest under computer crime act)). The news site reported that Phraya Pichai still had to see his family and consult a lawyer.
Two days later, on September 6, 2007, Phraya Pichai was released on bail ((Committee to Protect Bloggers » Thai blogger released on bail, another arrested)). But still he faced a jail sentence up to 10 years and / or a fine of up to 200.000 Baht ((Free Pichai » Latest update » Praya Pichai gets bail)). By then it was rumored that the prosecution would accept a guilty plea in return for “only” a four-month sentence ((FACT » Charges against cyber dissidents withdrawn – no victory for free expression)).
Finally, on October 12 the prosecution dropped the charges against Phraya Pichai by not pursuing the case, giving no reasons for the withdrawal. Phraya Pichai was also handed back the bail money ((FACT » Charges against cyber dissidents withdrawn – no victory for free expression)), but his internet activity will remain monitored for the next ten years ((Reporters without Borders » Charges dropped against blogger who was arrested under new cyber-crime law)).