Thai police launched an inquiry on Wednesday into criticism by the U.S. ambassador of a harsh royal insult law just a day after the junta rapped Britain’s envoy for his remarks on the freedom of assembly. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies made the remarks in an address on Nov. 25 at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand criticising the military regime for “the lengthy and unprecedented” jail sentences handed down under the law, which exists ostensibly to protect the royal family. Critics argue the law is often used to pursue political opponents and that it has been increasingly broadly interpreted in recent years. Davies’ speech sparked a small protest outside the U.S. embassy in Bangkok last month by a group of nationalists. Police said a formal investigation has not been launched, but an inquiry was underway following a formal complaint. A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the matter. Thailand’s royal insult laws are among the world’s harshest and, under Article 112 of the criminal code, anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent” faces up to 15 years in jail.
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