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Thai ‘Red Shirt’ dissident detained upon return from exile
Published on: Thursday, March 28, 2024
By: AFP
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Thai ‘Red Shirt’ dissident detained upon return from exile
Charged with owning illegal weapons and violating Thailand’s strict royal defamation laws, Jakrapob Penkair fled in 2009 to live in self-imposed exile. (AFP pic)
BANGKOK: A prominent Thai “Red Shirt” dissident returned to the kingdom today after 15 years of self-imposed exile and was immediately detained by police, his lawyer said.

Jakrapob Penkair was a government spokesman for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and then a prominent member of the “Red Shirt” movement that supported him after he was ousted by a military coup in 2006.

Facing multiple charges including owning illegal weapons and violating the kingdom’s strict royal defamation laws, Jakrapob fled Thailand in 2009 to live in self-imposed exile.

He landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport this morning and was immediately held by police.

“He will enter the legal process, and we will see what we can do,” his lawyer Chokchai Angkaew told reporters.

Before flying back to the kingdom, Jakrapob posted a video of himself speaking to fans.

“I’ve been away for 15 years, now I’m going back to Thailand…and I hope to fight all legal challenges,” he said.

“I hope I can give back to the kingdom.”

His return came several months after billionaire ex-premier Thaksin returned home after over a decade and a half in exile.

Thaksin was immediately jailed on old graft and abuse of power charges, but his eight-year jail sentence was soon cut to one by King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Last month, the 74-year-old was granted early release because of his age and poor health, and is now living in his Bangkok home.

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