Old videos, photos falsely linked to arrest of Thai activist

Social media posts have shared photos and video with a false claim that they show the arrest of Thai pro-democracy activist Anon Numpa in July 2023. The pictures and videos were in fact taken in August 2020 and Anon’s lawyer told AFP on August 4, 2023 that his client remained free.

“[He’s] so outspoken on stage. But when he gets a court warrant, he goes weak at the knees,” reads a Thai-language post from July 21 on Twitter, which is being rebranded as “X”.

The photo shows Anon Numpa leaning forward with his arms held up by two police officers.

The post, which has more than 30,000 views, was shared on July 21 by an account that has expressed support for Thailand’s monarchy.

Anon is a Thai lawyer and pro-democracy activist who gained international attention for leading a Harry Potter-themed protest in 2020 against the Thai monarchy (archived link).

The stunt saw Anon detained for months under Thailand’s draconian royal defamation laws. He was jailed again in August 2021 for taking part in anti-establishment protests before being freed on bail in February 2022 (archived link).

<span>Screenshot of the false post</span>

Screenshot of the false post

Social media posts sharing the photo they falsely claimed showed Anon’s recent arrest surfaced after he led rallies in July as Thailand’s parliament was set to vote for a prime minister after the opposition secured a victory in the general election in May (archived link). 

The rallies defied the conditions of his bail release, which said that he could not take part in political activities, including protests (archived link).

“This video shows the moment police apprehends Anon Numpa, who violated the conditions of temporary bail,” reads a Thai-language Facebook post from July 21, which shared a video of Anon being led away by police and another clip of him speaking to a crowd.

“He suddenly went weak at the knees.”

Some social media users appeared to believe the photo and videos were taken recently.

“Serves him right, given what he did. Finally, the country will be at peace,” one user commented.

“Just leave him in jail forever for the sake of the country and the Thai people,” another wrote.

However, the videos and pictures in the misleading posts were in fact taken in August 2020.

Picture of 2020 arrest

Anon’s lawyer said he was not arrested at the rallies he led in July, but that he was due to appear in court.

“Anon is due in court in September for violating his bail conditions,” Kritsadang Nutcharus told AFP on August 4.

“But he is still free at the moment. He is living in Bangkok.”

Anon was still active on Facebook and Twitter on that day and published a post calling for protesters to gather at the Ratchaprasong Intersection in downtown Bangkok.

Noppadol Dornsrichan, deputy chief of the Phahonyothin Police Station, told AFP they had filed a case against the activist for “violating bail conditions”.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and iLaw published photos on August 7, 2022 showing Anon and fellow activist, Panupong Jadnok, taken away by police were arrested and charged with sedition (archived links here and here).

“Photos show an incident when lawyer Anon Numpa and Panupong Jadnok being ‘dragged’ out of the Criminal Court by police to be detained at the Huai Khwang Police Station,” iLaw’s post reads. “Both of them did not cooperate.”

Below is a screengrab comparison between the misleading post (left) and the social media posts shared by TLHR and iLaw (right) with key similarities highlighted by AFP:

<span>Screengrab comparison between the misleading post (left) and the social media posts shared by TLHR and iLaw (right) with key similarities highlighted by AFP</span>

Screengrab comparison between the misleading post (left) and the social media posts shared by TLHR and iLaw (right) with key similarities highlighted by AFP

AFP also published photos showing the scene when Anon and Panupong were taken away by police on August 7, 2020 here and here.

“Two protest leaders, Anon and activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, were arrested on the evening of August 7 on eight charges, including sedition and breaking coronavirus rules about gatherings at a rally held at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on July 18,” the photo captions say.

Thai news agency The Reporters also posted a clip of the incident.

AFP reported Anon and Panupong were released on bail on August 8, 2020 (archived link).

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