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Thai anti-coup leader arrested

By Anusak Konglang in Bangkok | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-07 07:20

Military tracked down activist who organized illegal flash-mob rallies

Thailand's government said on Friday that it had captured a fugitive anti-coup leader facing possible imprisonment, as the ruling generals seek to stamp out any criticism of their seizure of power.

The government has banned public protests, summoned hundreds of critics for questioning and imposed a nighttime curfew since its May 22 takeover, which has sent tourist arrivals plunging.

Sombat Boonngamanong, who spearheaded an online campaign to stage illegal flashmob rallies against the military takeover, was arrested late on Thursday in Chonburi southeast of Bangkok, said army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong.

"We have a team who tracked him through the Internet," she said.

Sombat faces charges of defying an order to report to the authorities, which carries a possible punishment of two years in prison.

He was expected to be detained at an army facility for up to one week for questioning and then brought before a military court.

Sombat was one of several hundred politicians, activists, academics and journalists summoned by the government, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order, following the May 22 takeover.

Those who attended were detained in secret locations for up to a week and ordered to cease political activities.

Sombat, a prominent political activist, refused to turn himself in, instead posting a message on Facebook saying: "Catch me if you can".

Since then he has urged followers to stage peaceful public demonstrations, flashing the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games films that has become a symbol of defiance against the authorities.

Sombat is the leader of a faction of the "Red Shirts" movement, which broadly supports former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was deposed as prime minister last month.

His supporters reacted to news of his arrest with dismay.

"What has he done wrong? Did he kill anybody?" one follower wrote on his Facebook page.

Agence France-Presse

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