Thailand Arrests American Accused of Insulting King

Joe Gordon is accused of linking to banned Yale book.

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Friday, May 27, 2011  |  Updated 11:24 AM EDT
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An American citizen was arrested in Thailand on Friday morning, accused of insulting the country's monarchy and Yale University Press plays a role in the case, which is getting international attention.

Joe Gordon is accused of posting a link on his blog four years ago to "The King Never Smiles," an unauthorized biography of the ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej that is banned in Thailand.

Yale University Press published the book in 2006, which depicts the king as an American-born boy who grows up to be seen by his people as a living Buddha, and as a deeply political and autocratic leader.

The book is banned in Thailand and the nation blocked access to the Yale University Press Web site after the book came out, the Yale Daily News reported at the time.

University officials said in 2006 that the book had "given cause for concern" but they stood behind the writer’s research.

Gordon, 54, denied the charges, which also include inciting public unrest and violating Thailand's Computer Crimes Act, according to the Thai-language prachatai.com news website, which tracks cases of lese majeste, as the crime of insulting the monarch is known.

Gordon lived in Colorado for around 30 years before returning recently to Thailand for medical treatment, the website said. His Thai name is Lerpong Wichaikhammat, said a court official, who declined to be named because she is not authorized to speak to the media.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy but has severe lese majeste laws that mandate a jail term of three to 15 years for any person who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand's equivalent of the FBI, said Gordon was arrested on Thursday.

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