News / Asia

Two Journalists in Thailand Face Charges Due to Pulitzer Prize Report

Alan Morison (R), an Australian, and Thai national Chutima Sidasathian, reporters for the Phuketwan news website, speak to media as they arrive to a criminal court in Phuket, April 17, 2014.
Alan Morison (R), an Australian, and Thai national Chutima Sidasathian, reporters for the Phuketwan news website, speak to media as they arrive to a criminal court in Phuket, April 17, 2014.
An excerpt from a Pulitzer Prize report posted online by a website in Thailand has led to a criminal court case against two journalists in the country. They are accused of defaming the Thai navy for its alleged involvement in trafficking of some refugees from Burma.

An Australian editor based in Thailand and one of his local reporters appeared in a provincial court Thursday and were released on bail.

The navy filed charges against them five months ago after they posted a paragraph from a Reuters news story which alleged that members of the Thai military profited from trafficking of Muslim Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The two journalists who were charged work for an online English-language news site on the Thai southern resort island of Phuket.

Alan Morison is the editor of the Phuketwan web site. He said his independent website likely was targeted because it repeatedly has reported about how the Rohingya refugees have been treated by Thai authorities. He said it is not unique for officials here, however, to try to intimidate journalists and others in this way.

"The law is used in all kinds of bad ways against investigative journalists and academics and even migrant activists in Thailand already. And we're just the most noticeable case, I guess, because it's the military," said Morison.

After being granted bail, Morison was ordered by the court not to leave Thailand.

The other journalist charged in the case is Chutima Sidasathian. She expressed relief about being granted bail after being held in the court's detention cell for five hours. Chutima said she and her editor will fight the case.

Chutima also helped Reuters with its series on the plight of the refugees. The Reuters' articles were this week awarded a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.  

Reuters says the same Thai navy officer who brought the case against the two journalists has also filed a criminal complaint against the news agency, which is believed to be under review by Thai authorities.

Morison and Chutima face up to seven years in prison and a fine of about $3,000 if convicted of both defamation and offenses under the Computer Crimes Act.

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, is calling on Thailand's leaders to intervene and stop the case. It terms the prosecution an application of draconian laws and a "blatant violation of media freedoms."

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand issued a statement Thursday saying it shares the view of the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner that such a prosecution "serves only to stifle media freedom on an issue of profound importance to the rights of persecuted people." The journalists' organization added that the legal action also damages Thailand's image and claims the country may make in support of freedom of speech and fair comment.

The provincial court has set a May 26 date for the first hearing in the case.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid