CCTV released by Thai media such as Nation TV and Channel 7, along with continuing evidence released by Thai police, have shone some doubts on claims made by a Taiwanese actress of being extorted by Thai police for 27,000 baht.
First, get caught up on the allegations and accusations with the ongoing very public claims and statements made by the Taiwanese actress, Charlene An, and Thai Police, here. The situation has been ongoing for almost a week with back and forth public social media statements between both parties.
In a nutshell, the actress claims Thai police extorted her for 27,000 baht and took her to a private alley to do so. She had been stopped in a vehicle at a regular traffic checkpoint near the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok on January 5th while on vacation. Charlene has since left the country and pledged to never return while making continued statements about her alleged extortion and detainment on Instagram.
Charlene stated on her Instagram she had a proper visa and provided proof when asked, was not intoxicated and was cooperative with Thai police, and was taken to a private alley to be extorted for 27,000 baht. More recently, she claimed on Taiwanese television that Thai police had placed vaping equipment in her hand without her knowing what it was and claiming she didn’t vape. Vaping is illegal in Thailand, notes TPN media. She also stated she was held for two hours uncomfortably.
However, recent CCTV video released by multiple Thai media and police sources appears to contradict some of her statements, as they appear to show her having and using the same vaping equipment on multiple occasions prior to her traffic stop and no sign of being led away to a private alley as she stated. Her detainment also lasted 47 minutes, according to CCTV, and not two hours, and there were no signs of being forced to uncomfortable areas as she was seen only standing in the footage. Additionally, Thai police and witnesses such as her taxi driver have stated she was heavily intoxicated and uncooperative, with her taxi driver reportedly willing to testify in court.
Thai police also insist her visa paperwork was incomplete and that she was not cooperative with officers. Meanwhile, senior Thai police have asked for several more days to investigate all sides involved and make what they say will be a transparent decision. Charlene has continued to stand hard by her statements and state she did nothing wrong and is telling the truth. She had also threatened to report Thai police to Interpol, although it was unclear what effect this would have.
Senior Thai police, meanwhile, have stated that if police involved did not charge Charlene properly for vaping equipment or extorted her, charges would be filed. However, they also cautioned that if Charlene was caught violating Thailand’s strict defamation and slander laws or lying she could also be charged, including with an Interpol red notice to be extradited to Thailand for trial, in what was likely a retort to Charlene’s own threats of going to Interpol.
For now, both sides refuse to back down and senior Thai police continue to investigate while the case polarizes and captures the attention of Thai and Taiwanese social media. Unfortunately, as called out by Thai Prime Prayut Chan-O-Cha, regardless of who is right or wrong, the longer the situation drags on the more it harms Thai tourism overall.
Taiwanese social media has broadly supported Charlene An, and initially most Thai media did as well, however, with the release of CCTV footage and statements from witnesses, many Thai media sources and social media commenters in Thailand have begun to turn on Charlene’s statements. TPN media, as usual, remains neutral and will let investigators involved make final decisions.