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British Rights Activist Meets EU, Maintains Innocence As He Leaves Thailand

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
PHUKET: Migrant rights activist Andy Hall met with European Union officials in Thailand yesterday and is on his way back to Burma as planned.

Mr Hall, a British citizen facing jail and heavy financial penalties over a human rights campaign in Thailand, has turned to the EU for help in the absence of practical support from his own country's embassy.

The EU is engaged in negotiating a free trade agreement with Thailand, with the issue of workers' rights a continuing concern across Thailand's fishing industry and in all factories exporting goods to Europe.

One large Thai company, Natural Fruit Ltd, has widened its action against Mr Hall in making fresh allegations over videos posted online by the Aljazeera news outlet and Finnwatch, the rights group that commissioned the original research.

The Finnwatch findings alleged that Natural Fruit violated migrant labor rights at its factory. Natural Fruit has responded with a suit claiming criminal defamation and accusing Mr Hall of breaking the Computer Crime Act by disseminating his research.

Mr Hall could face a compensation payout of up to 300 million baht if found guilty. He has said that if he is arrested at any point by Thai authorities, he will not seek bail.

''It's an insult to my dignity and international human rights standards that a private individual can bring so many malicious cases against me for revealing their multiple illegality,'' he said as he left Thailand.

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