Lawyer plans appeal in fight to release ‘Uncle SMS’

January 22, 2012

The lawyer for Ampon Tangnoppakul, better known as Uncle SMS, will lodge an appeal against the 62 year old’s lese majeste conviction. On Nov 23, Ampon was found guilty on four counts of violating the lese majeste law and the Computer Crime Act for sending four text messages deemed offensive to the monarchy to Somkiat Krongwattanasuk, secretary to then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in May 2010. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mr Arnon said Ampon’s appeal would be based on three issues. First, that the IMEI identification number of the phone could have been forged. Second, that there were missing files and documents and discrepancies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses. Finally, that Ampon could not have sent the four text messages because of inconsistencies between where they were sent from and the locations from where Ampon made phone calls a short time later using a different server. Mr Arnon insisted Ampon does not know how to use SMS texting.

Ampon took the news of the pending appeal with a slight nod and a smile when visited by the Bangkok Post Sunday last week. It has been been nearly two months since the guilty verdict, but he has been in custody since Jan 18, 2011 when he was charged by prosecutors and denied bail after being deemed a flight risk. He admitted he used to cry every day, but now accepts things for what they are. He turned 62 on Jan 1, celebrating New Year and his birthday by eating som tam and fermented rice noodles in his cell with a few friends at the Bangkok Remand Centre.

An appeal normally takes two to three years. When asked what were the chances of Ampon receiving bail, Mr Arnon said: “Public sentiment will help a lot.”


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