French Court Bans Publication Of Topless Kate Photos, Possible Jail Time For Photog And Editor



PARIS - A French court has blocked the future publication by a French magazine of the now infamous topless photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, reports the BBC.

The court order prevents French magazine Closer’s publisher, Silvio Berlusconi-owned Mondadori, from “selling, distributing the photos by any means, on any support, to whoever and in any way, including notably on digital tablets,” says Europe 1.

The magazine, which faces a 10,000-euro fine for every breach, will also have to hand the sunbathing photos back to Middleton within the next 24 hours.

According to French daily Libération, the court, however, said that they could not stop Closer from reediting the issue containing the topless pictures.

Kate and Wills have won their injunction case in France. No more naughty topless pictures thank you!…

— Digital Spy (@digitalspy) September 18, 2012

The ruling only affects the French publisher, not the Irish Daily Star and the Italian magazine CHI, also owned by Mondadori, which both published the photos. Irish Daily Star Editor, Michael O’Kane was suspended following the publication while an internal investigation into his decision to publish the photographs take place, reports Channel 4 news. The newspaper has been under threat of closure since publishing the pictures, but the Guardian says Irish shareholders have been trying to walk the paper “back from the edge.”

According to the Guardian, the decision to publish has threatened the end of self-regulation of Irish newspapers with the justice minister Alan Shatter threatening privacy legislation. He said the publication of the pictures was down to "perceived financial gain" and not "principled freedom of expression" and a belief by certain sections of the print media that "public figures are fair game." He declared he was going to revisit the 2006 privacy bill.

Meanwhile the Editor of Chi magazine defended the publication of the topless pictures, telling Sky News he had done nothing illegal and wanted to show how the Royal family in Britain had modernized.

“Find le rat” titled the Sun on Tuesday, saying the snapper who took the photos should be hunted down to face jail. The photographer, Valerie Suau, an experienced photographer in her 40s, could face a year in jail along with Closer’s editor.

On Monday, the French court said they were beginning a preliminary investigation to see if there were grounds for criminal charges, reports the BBC. The decision follows a formal complaint by the royals to prosecutors, with aides saying they were pursuing proceedings against both the magazine and the photographer who took the pictures.

The Royal couple is on a tour of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Yesterday, reports the New York Daily News the Duchess of Cambridge did her best to maintain her composure while negotiating a highly awkward moment.

Middleton and Prince William were welcomed to the village of Marau, in the Solomon Islands, by a group of topless women, draped in the island’s traditional garb, who presented the couple with garlands to wear during their visit.

The move seemed to amuse the Duchess, who laughed and covered her face.

Duchess of Cambridge, queen of the South Seas, greeted by bare-chested Solomon islanders

— Daily Telegraph News (@TelegraphNews) September 17, 2012

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How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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