A captain acting on behalf of the Royal Thai Navy has accused two Phuketwan journalists of damaging the reputation of the service and of breaching the Computer Crimes Act. Two other journalists from the Reutersnews agency are expected to face similar charges shortly.
The Phuketwan journalists, Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, denied the charges and were fingerprinted when they presented themselves today at Vichit Police Station, south of Phuket City. They are due to reappear on December 24. The pair face a maximum jail term of five years and/or a fine of up to 100,000, baht
It’s believed to be the first time an arm of the military in Thailand has sued journalists for criminal defamation using the controversial Computer Crimes Act. (…)
In response to presentation of the charges today, Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian issued the following statement:
(…) We are shocked to learn now that the Navy is using a controversial law to sue Phuketwan for criminal defamation. The allegations in the article are not made by Phuketwan. They are made by the highly-respectedReuters news agency, following a thorough investigation. (…)
The Rohingya have no spokesperson, no leader, but through Phuketwan’s ongoing coverage, the torment of these people continues to be revealed. Their forced exodus from Burma is a great tragedy. Yet how they are treated in the seas off Thailand and in Thailand remains a constant puzzle.
We wish the Royal Thai Navy would clear its reputation by explaining precisely what is happening to the Rohingya in the Andaman Sea and in Thailand. By instead using a controversial law against us, the Navy is, we believe, acting out of character.
We can only wonder why a good organisation finds it necessary to take such unusual action instead of making a telephone call or holding a media conference.