American gets 2.5 years for insulting Thai monarchy
By Kocha Olarn, CNN
December 8, 2011 -- Updated 1024 GMT (1824 HKT)
Bangkok (CNN) --
A Thai criminal court has sentenced a Thai-born American to two and a half years in prison for insulting the monarchy.
The charge of writing and posting articles insulting the monarchy can yield a sentence as high as 20 years in prison in the Buddhist country, where the king is highly revered.
But Joe W. Gordon, whose Thai name is Lerpong Wichaicommart, cooperated during the investigation and pleaded guilty, resulting in the lenient sentence, his lawyer said.
The lawyer, Anon Rumpa, said he plans to file for a royal pardon.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej has pardoned foreigners in similar cases in the past.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Gordon said he was "an American, not a Thai citizen."
An "American has rights and freedom to comment. In Thailand, there is limitation in expressing opinion," he said.
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej is highly revered in the Buddhist nation.Gordon, 54, returned to Thailand last year after 30 years in the United States. He was arrested in May for posting a link on his blog to an unauthorized biography of the king, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.
He had been detained without bail since then.
Thailand's lese majeste laws are among the toughest in the world, stipulating punishment for anyone defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family.
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