Thursday, July 2, 2009
Tongue Thai'd Foreign Hacks may be jailed for releasing 'anti-King' dvd in Bangkok
Internal politics in Thailand can be rather baffling, with its shirts of different hues and passionate protestors with the polysyllabic names. The latest twist, after a big Red Shirt rally in support of the ousted populist leader Thaksin Shinawatra, lashes out at foreign correspondents. A broad reading of the lese majeste law, which bans criticism of the monarchy, may put thirteen board members of the press club (FCCT) in jail after they released a dvd with a rousing speech given on the club's premises two years ago. A disgruntled translator on the tape reportedly took it to the police station at Lumpini, initiating the complaint. Amnesty International has come out against the Thai judiciary's decision to hold a similar trial behind closed doors after charges were pressed again Daranee Charn-cherngsilpakul for a speech in the park. See Nirmal Gosh's recent piece. Now it's time for Reporters Without Borders to back up the volunteer club officers.
Under threat are Jonathan Head, of the BBC, plus a dozen other foreign correspondents from high profile news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. They ciould spend fifteen years in jail. Head got in trouble last year for moderating a panel on "Coup, Capital and Crown", but the case was dropped. This looks almost like double jeopardy, reviving the accusations in different guise.
Hat tip to Richard Ehrlich for this post.