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Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison outside Phuket Provincial Court

FCCT Statement on Acquittal of Phuketwan Journalists

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
THE professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand welcomes the acquittal of two journalists charged by the Royal Thai Navy with defamation and violating the Computer Crimes Act.

A judge in the criminal court in Phuket found no basis for the charges against Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, the two founders of the Phuketwan news website.

The charges were filed in December 2013, over an article published six months earlier by Phuketwan, which included a 41-word paragraph from a Reuters investigation referring to the role of Thai naval forces in human trafficking.

Phuketwan did not retract or apologise for their article, but they did offer the Navy the opportunity to put its case on Phuketwan. The Navy declined the offer.

The FCCT condemns the use of the Criminal Defamation and Computer Crimes Laws against journalists for their reporting, when other remedies for redress are available through civil legal action.

Journalists should not be at risk of long prison sentences for what they report. We commend the court in Phuket for this encouraging verdict, which we hope will discourage others in positions of authority from using these laws against journalists writing critically.

We also urge the Royal Thai Navy to end this unwarranted case now by not appealing against the verdict.

It has only served to damage the navy's reputation, and disrupt the lives of two journalists whose only crime was to try to expose the illegal exploitation of migrants in Thailand.

Comments

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I have only just heard the news and am greatly relieved for the both of you.

Thankfully the court ruled in your favour and it is a real win for journalists in Thailand.

Kudos to the Thai and international organisations that strongly supported you during this time as well as the many people and readers who have been following the case and will have been very happy to hear of the positive outcome.

Hope that you can find time for some well deserved rest and relaxation now, but I expect you are more likely to be headed out to report on the next big news story instead.

Good luck for both of you in the future!

Posted by Steven King on September 7, 2015 08:06


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