The arrest of leading anti-coup campaigner Sombat Boonngam-anong on Thursday night was accidental and came from a joint police-military raid on a house in Chon Buri suspected of operating a website insulting the monarchy and inciting violence.
A source involved in the arrest said police, military and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officials worked together to locate the house in Phan Thong district on the eastern seaboard before the raid was made.
Sombat was found inside the house during the raid by police and soldiers. The red-shirt activist had spearheaded an online campaign to stage illegal rallies against the military’s seizure of power.
A senior police officer in Phan Thong shares the same family name as a red-shirt.
Other sources said yesterday that Sombat’s arrest came after authorities tracked suspected Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, but they did not clarify whether he was the intended target.
“We have a team who tracked him through the Internet,” Army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Earlier news reports quoted an adviser to Police Maj General Pisit Pao-in, permanent secretary of Information, Communications and Technology, as saying that the NIA had played a part in arresting Sombat by tracing his IP address. But NIA director Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana yesterday denied the agency was involved.
Just one day after the May 22 coup, Sombat was summoned to report to the ruling junta. He refused to turn himself in but instead started an anti-coup campaign through social media.
“I do not accept the power of the coup-makers,” he said on Facebook.
But on Thursday night, he last post said: “I have been arrested.”
Colonel Winthai Suvari, spokesman for the junta, said it was likely Sombat would be detained for about a week before he is handed over to a military court.