The Thai government plans to sue a popular
video-sharing Internet site where someone posted a short clip earlier this year
deemed insulting to the country's much-revered monarch, an official said Friday.
The government blocked access to YouTube on April 4 after it turned down a
request to remove the contentious 44-second video, which shows provocative
graffitti-like elements painted over a slideshow of photographs of 79-year-old
King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Sitthichai Phokai-udom, the minister of information and communications
technology, told The Associated Press that a suit would be lodged with a Thai
court next week on charges of lese majeste, or offense against the monarchy,
which is a crime in Thailand.
"Thailand is a fairly small country and not the economic or military
powerhouse, so we are at the mercy of the greedy businessman in America," he
He said the legal action was a cultural issue, not a political one, because
"the majority of the Thai people feel deeply insulted by this video clip."
One part of the clip juxtaposes pictures of feet over the king's image _ a
major taboo in a culture where feet are considered extremely dirty and
offensive. The soundtrack is the Thai national anthem.
Thai authorities take insults to the king extremely seriously. A Swiss man
was sentenced to 10 years in jail in March in the northern Thai city of Chiang
Mai after he defaced posters of the king during a drinking binge. He was later
pardoned and deported.
Critics have accused the current government of blocking Web sites criticizing
the September coup that overthrew then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Sitthichai earlier said he had ordered fewer than 10 sites blocked since
taking office late last year, either because the site was insulting to the
monarchy, was pornographic, or called for public political protests, which are
illegal under martial law proclaimed after last year's coup.