Asia

Thai court frees student constitution protesters

  • Members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive in custody with a police escort at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016.Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to the freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive in custody with a police escort at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016.Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to the freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

  • Student activist Rangsiman Rome, center, and other members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Student activist Rangsiman Rome, center, and other members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive in police custody at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to the freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) group arrive in police custody at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Human rights groups expressed their concerns that the students were arrested for exercising their rights to the freedom of expression ahead of the Aug. 7, 2016, referendum on the draft constitution. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

A court in Thailand has ordered the release of seven students who were arrested last month for distributing leaflets urging people to vote against a proposed new constitution in a referendum next month.

An observer for the legal aid group iLaw, Yingcheep Atchanont, said the Bangkok Military Court ordered their release Tuesday because police had already completed their investigation of the June 23 protest. They still face several charges pending prosecutors' acceptance of the case.

The Aug. 7 referendum is on a constitution drafted under the military government that took power in a May 2014 coup. Critics say the draft is undemocratic, but are restrained from campaigning against it by very restrictive laws that could send them to prison for 10 years.