'Hunger Games' activist freed on bail in Thailand

AP News
Posted: Jul 02, 2014 1:23 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — An activist who spearheaded silent protests against Thailand's military coup, including a campaign featuring a three-fingered salute inspired by "The Hunger Games," had been freed on bail after a month-long detention, police said on Wednesday.

Sombat Boonngam-anong was released from police custody Tuesday on conditions that he not incite unrest or travel overseas without permission from authorities after posting a 300,000 baht ($9,250) bail, said Police Col. Kittirat Noiponthong.

The 46-year-old was freed by the military court Monday after his arrest June 5 in eastern Thailand. After the release he was taken to Roi Et province, 510 kilometers (320 miles) northeast of Bangkok, for a police interrogation in a separate lawsuit involving anti-monarchy defamation accusations, which result in a prison term of to 15 years.

Police Col. Kittirat said Sombat will have to report himself to police officers in Roi Et every month.

Sombat faces a variety of charges, including inciting division in the country by organizing protests, defying the junta's summoning order, and violation of the country's Computer Crime Act. A long-time social activist, he used social media to organize groups of demonstrators to come together on Sundays for peaceful protests and to spearhead the "Hunger Games"-inspired three-finger salute campaign to protest the May 22 coup, even as he was in hiding.

The numbers of protesters have now dwindled due to a show of force and crackdown by police and soldiers.

Sombat was one of the first people to organize protests against a previous coup in 2006, and became known for his imaginative and non-violent tactics. He was associated with the so-called Red Shirt movement, which supported Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister who was ousted in 2006, and more recently his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced out of office by a court ruling slightly ahead of the coup.