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Thailand: Lèse-majesté charge used to crackdown on opposition media

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has expressed concern over the fate of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, editor of the magazine Voice of Thaksin, who was arrested by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on April 30 and was placed in pre-trial custody Monday by a Bangkok criminal court on a charge of lèse-majesté. A request for release on bail was rejected.

“This arrest confirms that a crackdown on the opposition media is under way,” RSF said. “Once again it is a lèse-majesté charge that has been used to detain an opposition journalist and activist. This is not an isolated case but one that targets all media that are close to or support the opposition. In less than a month, about 20 opposition figures have been accused of lèse-majesté.”

Somyos was arrested at the border in Aranyaprathet, in the eastern province of Sa Kaeo, as he was trying to cross into Cambodia. The Bangkok Post quoted a police officer as saying the court granted a request from the DSI to hold him for ten days so that he could not “tamper with the evidence against him.”

The editor of the bi-monthly Voice of Thaksin (which was banned in 2010 and which was subsequently replaced by Red Power), Somyos was arrested in May 2010 following the final assault on the “Red Shirt” opposition demonstrators and was held for three weeks. He later gave Reporters Without Borders an interview. During the news conference he gave on May 21, 2010, he called for a halt to “any threatening act against all mass media.” At the end of the news conference he turned himself in to the authorities.

Representatives of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) announced on April 30, the day of his arrest, that they were writing to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva requesting his support for World Press Freedom Day Tuesday.

Date posted: May 2, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 59