Thailand to investigate BBC over profile of new king

Thailand to investigate BBC over profile of new king

Thailand's defense minister said on Wednesday authorities will investigate the BBC on suspicion of insulting the monarchy in connection with a Thai-language profile of the new king that has stirred social media anger, Reuters reports.


Offending the dignity of a reigning monarch, known by the French term lese-majeste, is a serious crime under Thai law and offenders can be punished with up to 15 years in prison.


The constitutional monarchy has been in the international spotlight since King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Oct. 13 at the age of 88, after seven decades on the throne.


His son was proclaimed King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun on Thursday last week and BBC Thai, the BBC's Thai-language service, published a profile of him online.


The piece was widely shared on social media and some Thais have said its content was insulting to the new king.


"Authorities have to pursue the matter. It is their duty to pursue anything that is against the law," Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters.


The Thai Ministry of Digital Economy blocked a link to the profile on the BBC's Thai website on Tuesday and it remained blocked on Wednesday. A message on the site said it was blocked for "inappropriate content".


Anyone can file a lese-majeste complaint against another person and police always investigate such cases, rights groups say.