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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid