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Thai police seek to prosecute new party leader over online speech | Thailand News

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Just over a month before Thailand‘s long-delayed elections, police say they are seeking the prosecution of the leader of a new political party for allegedly spreading “false information” about the military government in a speech posted on Facebook last year.

The legal action against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 40, and two senior colleagues in the Future Forward Party, which has attracted the support of young voters, will add to concerns that the military is determined to retain a hold over politics, even after the return of civilian rule in the March 24 vote.

“We will send both the case for prosecution and the suspects to the attorney general,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Krit Seneewong Na Ayutthaya, an investigator on the case from the police cybercrime division, told Reuters news agency.

Thanathorn, a car-parts billionaire and newcomer to the political scene, and his two colleagues could be hit with hefty fines and jailed for five years under the Computer Crime Act.

Krit said the case would be referred next week to state prosecutors, who will decide whether to take it to court.

The Future Forward Party has denied the charge, saying the points made in the June speech were public information – the trio had alleged that the military government was recruiting members of major political parties to join new parties set up in support of it.

“It’s obvious that as the election approaches, the case is being rushed ahead … We’re ready to face whatever challenge comes our way,” Thanathorn told reporters at a campaign rally in the capital, Bangkok, on Wednesday.

Hundreds of young people, many of them students, turned out for the rally. Most took pictures and videos of Thanathorn and some queued up to take selfies with him. The hashtag “#SaveThanathorn” was trending on Thai Twitter.





Thanathorn takes a selfie with his supporters during a rally in Bangkok [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

Government critics consider the Computer Crimes Act draconian for its denial of freedom of speech online.

“The use of the Computer Crimes Act is used with the objective to silence us, threaten us, to make politics of fear happen in this country,” Thanathorn had told reporters in September

Next month’s general election is the first since a 2014 military coup.

While the vote is being highly anticipated by political parties and voters, some are concerned that a new constitution, drafted under military supervision, will ensure that the generals will retain a significant role in politics.

Thanathorn launched his party last year, promoting it as an alternative to the country’s polarised politics, which has for years pitted loyalists of overthrown ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra against establishment parties supporting the military-royalist elite.

Thanathorn has been critical of military rule, recently pledging to prosecute coup-makers and amend the new constitution.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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