If the case proceeds as lawyers expect, by next Monday evening the journalists could be in Phuket Prison as they make a protest at the Navy's use of the controversial Computer Crimes Act.
This week, Phuketwan's Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian will be guest panelists on Wednesday evening at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in Bangkok on the topic 'Silencing the Media over Rohingya Abuses.'
''The Navy's use of these bad laws is a tragedy for freedom of expression in Thailand,'' Morison said today. ''This kind of military versus media abuse is more suitable to a dictatorship than a democracy.
''The Navy should do the right thing and tell people the whole truth: which men in uniform are involved with human traffickers, and why? Thailand's citizens have the right to know what's being done in their name.''
The London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative has confirmed financial support and a team of lawyers from several legal action groups in Thailand will represent the journalists in court on Phuket.
A street protest against the Royal Thai Navy is being planned for March 11 outside the Royal Thai Consulate General in Melbourne, Australia, where Morison once worked. More protests are likely to follow in other cities.
The Phuket journalists say the Royal Thai Navy has relied on a poor translation and failed to take action against several Thai media outlets that also republished the same paragraph from the reputable international news agency, Reuters.
The Phuketwan journalists deny any wrongdoing. A brief statement issued by Reuters last year noted that that the news agency stands by its report.
The Invitation to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand reads as follows:
Silencing the Media over Rohingya Abuses
An evening panel with the two Phuketwan journalists facing jail.
19:00, Wednesday March 5, 2014
Non-members 350 Baht, Members Free
On Wednesday March 5, 1900 hrs, please come to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand to hear Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison speaking about their ground-breaking work in exposing the systematic abuse of Rohingya refugees in Thailand.
Alan and Chutima are both being prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act by the Royal Thai Navy, for an article they ran on their online newspaper Phuketwan last year, documenting the sale of Rohingyas intercepted in Thai waters into bonded labour. The investigative article was actually researched and written by Reuters and published in other Thai papers.
Alan and Chutima have played a central role over the past six years in exposing the exploitation and abuse of Rohingyas detained along Thailand's Andaman coast, in the finest tradition of investigative reporting
If convicted they could face up to seven years in prison.
These are two inspiring and courageous journalists, running their own newspaper, without the backing of a big media organisation. They are really worth listening to while they still have the freedom to speak.
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand
Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
Web Site: http://www.fccthai.com
Navy Uses Computer Crimes Act to Sue:
Phuket Reporters Prepared for Prison:
The Nation Cartoon in Full: