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Thais tighten ban on royal slurs

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Police say they are investigating a total of 32 cases of lèse-majesté, the highest number in decades. This includes BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who was accused last year because of his reporting on Thai politics.

A female Thai activist was recently sentenced to six years in jail over a speech made to supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Another activist is in jail awaiting trial after drawing parallels in a fiery speech between the fate of the Thai monarchy and that of deposed dynasties in Russia, Nepal, and France.

Although it's rare for foreigners to be prosecuted, they aren't exempt. A Swiss man who defaced portraits of the king and queen was sentenced in 2006 to 10 years in jail, then swiftly pardoned and deported. Nicolaides is hoping for the same fast-track release.

Amnesty International is concerned over the rise in lèse-majesté cases here, says Benjamin Zawacki, a researcher for the organization. It considers people jailed for peacefully expressing their views as prisoners of conscience and has campaigned for the release of Sulak Sivaraksa, a Thai academic who has twice been prosecuted for the crime and now faces a new allegation.

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