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Thai Police Detain British Writer's Wife over Royal Photos

Friday, 22 July 2016 04:55 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Police raided the home of a British journalist's wife on Friday and took her away for questioning in connection with his social media posts containing embarrassing photographs purported to be of Thailand's crown prince. Police later said the photos were doctored.

Andrew McGregor Marshall said in a statement that his wife, Noppawan "Ploy" Bunluesilp, was visiting Bangkok with their 3-year-old son when both of them were taken by police to a police station along with Noppawan's father. Noppawan, who is Thai, was released about eight hours later.

Her release "is very encouraging news but I remain very concerned that she has faced this ordeal. She is innocent and plays no part in my journalism," said Marshall.

Armed with a search warrant, police also took computers and several items from the house.

Police Lt. Gen. Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak told reporters that Noppawan was detained in connection with photos that Marshall had posted on his social media, and which were "deemed inappropriate." Under Thailand's strict "lese majeste" law, criticism of the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The photos Marshall tweeted Thursday were published in the German tabloid newspaper Bild and were purportedly of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at an airport in Germany. The crown prince spends much of his time in Germany.

Thitiraj said officers have determined that the photos are doctored, and that Marshall and two Thais, whom he did not name, are responsible for creating and posting fake photos on social media. He did not say whether Marshall's wife would be charged.

Marshall, who used to be based in Bangkok, is a frequent critic of the Thai monarchy and the military government that has ruled since a 2014 coup. Marshall and his wife have not lived in Thailand since 2011, but he continues to write about the country and is banned from entering it.

In the statement issued from Hong Kong, where he currently is, Marshall said Noppawan, 39, who used to work for Reuters and NBC, is currently not working.

"Ploy has never been involved in my journalism ... There is no reason for police to detain her. If Thai police believe that I have broken Thai law they should seek my extradition to Thailand via legitimate international legal challenges. It is unacceptable to harass an innocent woman simply because she is married to me," said Marshall, who also used to work for Reuters.

Khumklao Songsomboon, a lawyer with the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said two of her colleagues went into the police station to offer assistance to Noppawan but were denied entry.

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Police raided the home of a British journalist's wife on Friday and took her away for questioning in connection with his social media posts containing embarrassing photographs purported to be of Thailand's crown prince. Police later said the photos were doctored.Andrew...
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2016-55-22
Friday, 22 July 2016 04:55 AM
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