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Dissident gets 11-year sentence for insulting Thai king

BANGKOK -- A court in Thailand on Friday sentenced an opponent of the military government to more than 11 years in prison for posting material on the internet judged insulting to the country’s monarchy.

The military court halved the sentence for Burin Intin from an original 22 years, 8 months for two offenses because he pleaded guilty to the lese majeste charge as well as to violating the Computer Crime Act by posting illegal content. Lese majeste, insulting the monarchy, carries a penalty of three to 15 years in prison.

Burin was arrested in April 2016 as he participated in a protest in Bangkok against the military regime that seized power from an elected government two years earlier. The army still holds power, though it has promised an election by the end of this year.

One count against Burin was for a comment he posted on Facebook, while the second was based on a private message he sent to the mother of a well-known student activist. It was unclear how the authorities read the message, raising fears that they had found a way of intercepting such material that was not supposed to be public.

There is a small but determined anti-government protest movement, composed largely of students. Burin is a welder from northern Thailand.

Critics accuse the government of using the lese majeste law to intimidate and punish its critics and political foes. They also have concerns the Computer Crime Act serves the same purpose.

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