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‘Hunger Games’ activist freed on bail in Thailand

July 2, 2014

BANGKOK (AP) — An activist who spearheaded silent protests against Thailand’s military coup, including a campaign featuring a three-fingered salute inspired by “The Hunger Games,” has been freed on bail after a monthlong detention, police said Wednesday.

Sombat Boonngam-anong was released Tuesday on conditions that he not incite unrest or travel overseas without permission from authorities after posting a 300,000 baht ($9,250) bail, said police Col. Kittirat Noiponthong.

The 46-year-old was freed by a military court Monday after his June 5 arrest in eastern Thailand. He was then taken to Roi Et province, 510 kilometers (320 miles) northeast of Bangkok, for an interrogation in a separate case of anti-monarchy defamation, which could result in a prison term of up to 15 years.

Kittirat said that Sombat will have to report to police in Roi Et every month.

Sombat faces several charges, including inciting division by organizing protests, defying the junta’s summoning order, and violation of the Computer Crime Act. A long-time activist, he used social media to organize groups to come together on Sundays for peaceful protests and spearhead the “Hunger Games”-inspired three-finger salute campaign following the May 22 coup, even as he was in hiding.

The number of protesters has now dwindled following a show of force and crackdown by police and soldiers.

Sombat was one of the first people to organize protests against a previous coup in 2006, and became known for his imaginative and non-violent tactics. He was associated with the so-called Red Shirt movement, which supported Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister who was ousted in 2006, and more recently his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced out of office by a court ruling months before the coup.

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