American sentenced to prison for Thai royal insult

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A court in Thailand sentenced a U.S. citizen to two and a half years in prison Thursday for defaming the country’s royal family by translating excerpts of a locally banned biography of the king and posting them online.

The verdict is the latest so-called lese majeste punishment handed down in the Southeast Asian kingdom, which has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to reform harsh legislation that critics say is an affront to freedom of expression.

The 55-year-old Thai-born American, Joe Gordon, stood calmly with his ankles shackled in an orange prison uniform as the sentence was read out at a Bangkok criminal court.

Judge Tawan Rodcharoen said the punishment, initially set at five years, was reduced because Gordon pleaded guilty in October.

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