BANGKOK (AP) — A military court in junta-ruled Thailand sentenced a Web editor to 4 1/2 years in jail Monday for publishing an article five years ago that it said defamed the nation's king.
The punishment is the latest manifestation of an intensified crackdown on alleged criticism of the monarchy that has been waged by authorities since the army seized power in a May 22 coup.
Thailand's lese majeste law is considered the harshest in the world, with those accused of defaming, insulting or threatening the monarchy facing jail terms ranging from three to 15 years.
The sentence against Nut Rungwong was cut in half because he pleaded guilty to the charge, according to an official in the army's Judge Advocate General's department who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Rungwong edited the Thai E-News website, which is now blocked by censors. The article, published on the website in 2009, was written by Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a radical Thai intellectual and former university political scientist who fled to Britain the same year.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, turns 87 on Dec. 5, and concerns about his ailing health have risen markedly in recent years.
Monday's verdict was the second issued by a Thai military court this month in a case involving alleged defamation of the monarchy.