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A demonstrator at the protest in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday

Stop Thai Navy Persecuting Phuket Pair

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
PHUKET: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Thai authorities to drop the charges against Phuketwan editor Alan Morison and his colleague Chutima Sidasathian after their appearance date was delayed to April 17.

''Thai authorities have been playing games with media freedoms. This case has gone on long enough. The charges are clearly intended to pressure and intimidate the media and should be dropped before the next scheduled appearance date,'' IFJ Asia Pacific deputy director Jane
Worthington said.

Morison, 66, a former senior editor at The Age newspaper in Melbourne Australia was accused in December 2013 by a navy captain of ''damaging the reputation of the service'' and of breaching the Computer Crimes Act.

The Phuketwan duo were to face the charges yesterday (Monday) but the IFJ has been notified by Morison that when he presented himself at the office of the Phuket Prosecutor he was notified that the appearance was to be pushed back to April 17.

Since the accusations came about in December 2013, international pressure has built on authorities to make a positive statement about press freedom in Thailand and drop the charges.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, The Committee to Protect Journalists have joined media organisations such as Reuters and the Bangkok Post in voicing concerns over the charges.

Thai Captain Panlob Komtonlok's allegations of criminal defamation stemmed from a report from July 17 2013 by Phuketwan that contained a paragraph carried from a Reuters article that was critical of the Thai Naval authorities in their handling of the Rohingya boat people issue.

''The Royal Thai Navy is putting Thailand's democratic reputation at risk,'' Morison said.

Morison noted that the delay gives the prosecutors a chance to review the evidence and decide whether or not the action should proceed.

If convicted, Morison and his colleague Chutima Sidasathian could face maximum jail terms of five and two years for each charge and a fine of up to US$3000.

Morison said that the Computer Crimes Act was a fairly rare law and has been used recently to curtail human rights and free speech campaigners.

''It hasn't been used before by the military, but it has been used by others to try to stifle and silence human rights advocates, in particular in Thailand, so it's a nasty bit of legislation,'' Morison said.

Today IFJ affiliate the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) was joined by journalists and media workers at a rally in the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne as they called for an immediate dismissal of the charges against Morison and his Phuketwan colleague Chutima Sidasathian.

''The charges should be dropped. The authorities are clearly using the Computer Crimes Act to intimidate the media and Prime Minister Shinawatra should intervene in order to make a statement about the ability of the press in Thailand to freely conduct their work without fear of prosecution and jail time,'' Worthington said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries. Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

Navy Uses Computer Crimes Act to Sue:
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/navy-captain-uses-computer-crimes-act-sue-journalists-criminal-defamation-19413//

Phuket Reporters Prepared for Prison:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/387125/reporters-prepared-for-prison-in-navy-defamation-lawsuit/

The Nation Cartoon in Full:
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/specials/nationphoto/show.php?id=30&pid=16667/

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Alan I think this country is learning very quickly that officials should think before opening their mouths, that they should engage their brains first. The future ramifications have a bearing on the world not just in their own little fifedoms. Yes the world is watching. Win Alan win. Press freedom for all.

Posted by Graham on March 12, 2014 13:37

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@Graham, I wish it was true, but history shows thatThais do not learn/act from experience, condemnation, loss of face, I could go on, it also appears that no matter what the rest of the thinks, Thailand tends to give them "the finger," just look back to last year when the Chinese Ambassador condemned Thailand inactions, a lot of noise, a lot of promises, a lot of cracking down, on the innocent ie foreigners, some shuffling of police, a day or two cracking down on tuk tuk/taxis, but here we are March 2014 and very little has changed. It's my belief Thai officialdom thinks farang are like Thais, that is we will forget.

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 12, 2014 17:09

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Stop embarrassing yourself Alan. Youlre an AH who's thankfully been exposed, ironically by the Thai Navy. As thou shall sow, thou shall reap.

Posted by Phil on March 12, 2014 21:33

Editor Comment:

The only value in publishing your opinion, Phil, is as a lesson to other readers of what the phrase ''lower than a snake's belly'' is all about. What a forlorn and pathetic critter you must be. Always good for a laugh, though.

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Gowon folks ! Good for you !

Half of me thinks that surely someone in power must be looking for an out !?! Then again the other half knows that Laurie makes some good points. In any case, more exposure can only help PW and the Rohingya.

@ Phil: How can you see that picture and make that comment ? Beyond me.

Posted by James on March 13, 2014 14:46

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Good to see there are some selfless heroes like Alan left in the "me first, me second and me third" world.

Posted by Dean on March 14, 2014 03:57

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Morison.. " the truth is out there" and we all by ur side in this... can't beleive how ignorant The Navy is here. if u get convicted it will put a focus on this subject they cant even dream of....... i guess the Royal Thai Navy need more of a good luck than u guys...

Posted by frog on March 22, 2014 14:39

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I pity other Asean members when 2015 comes.Thailand will be their lead balloon.Alan and PW, I wish you the best of luck and thank you for standing up to help the poor Rohingya people.

Posted by Anonymous on April 11, 2014 14:02

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Alan and K Chutima, may you both have great fortune now and forever more. Thai navy, may you be exposed for what you are, damn it, I cant say anything more here, I might be charged with some fictitious sh_t like our two highly regarded journo's.
The world focus is now watching these proceedings Thailand, do you want to be like Burma, Egypt and Vietnam, think very carefully about your answer, your future depends on it?

Posted by Anontymouse on April 11, 2014 17:22

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Dear Jim and Khun Chutima, please do not worry too much. You have done no wrong. Have faith in God and I will say a special prayer for you both. I think that this is al about face! I enjoy your writing and the articles that you publish. I admire you for exposing the desperate plight of these poor people from Myanmar and you are doing a great job for the wrong doings of others. It is incredibly sad to see how these people have been treated, especialy the little children. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. Be strong!

Posted by irishkev24 on April 15, 2014 11:07

Editor Comment:

Jim Morrison? Ah, I'm begin to understand what the Doors were singing about. Thanks, irishkev24.

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If you really are Jim, Isishkev's prayer has worked better than expected. Do you think he could say one for Elvis and John L also?

Posted by Manowar on April 15, 2014 13:56

Editor Comment:

There are times when I add the extra 'r' and Jim takes the controls, Manowar. Surely you've noticed?

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Yes, the wild child from the Morrison Hotel

Posted by Manowar on April 15, 2014 14:14

Editor Comment:

There is a rumor he can still be seen along Soi Bangla after 2am, often in dark places, still wearing those same leather pants.

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I'll have to check that out next time I get a night pass usually in the form of " don't bother coming home tonight". I think that's the correct interpretation?

Posted by Manowar on April 15, 2014 14:26

Editor Comment:

That's what Jim's been told, yes.

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I thought it was an iguana but I now consider it may have been The King Lizzard

Posted by Manowar on April 15, 2014 14:58

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All the reputable organisation there are won't make a blind bit of difference. TIT if you're not an influential Thai your opinion has no merit and isn't welcome. All about choice - deposit B100,000 in bail, say you're very sorry and enjoy your freedom. Every farang here has to jump through hoops. The only question that's welcome is: How high sir?

Posted by gee on April 15, 2014 17:11

Editor Comment:

We don't jump, gee.


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