Police in Thailand ban import of book criticizing monarchy

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Thai police banned imports of a book they viewed as insulting the country's monarchy, as a crackdown against anti-royalist campaigns intensifies after a coup earlier this year.

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The book, "A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand's Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century," has contents that defamed the monarchy and "will affect the kingdom's stability, order or the good morality of the people," national police chief Gen. Somyot Poompanmoung said in an order released publicly on Wednesday.

Thailand's lese majeste law, which punishes people who defame, insult or threaten the monarchy, is the world's harshest, providing for jail terms of three to 15 years. The country's military government, which took power from an elected administration after a coup in May, has made one of its priorities to protect the monarchy's reputation.

The book, which had not gone on sale in Thailand, was written by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a former journalist with Thomson Reuters news agency. It was released last week by the British publishing house, Zed Books.

The ban was based on reviews of the book in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and the Britain's Independent newspapers, according to the national police chief. The announcement did not mention any bans on electronic copies of the book.

According to the order, those violating the ban will face a maximum jail term of three years or a maximum fine of 60,000 baht ($1,824), or both.

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In 2006, Thailand banned imports of a biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej written by an American journalist and published by Yale University Press.