JournalismPakistan.com April 17, 2014
PHUKET, Thailand: Thai authorities on Thursday charged two journalists with defaming Thailand's navy in an online news report about the trafficking of refugees from Myanmar, amid concerns about press freedom in the country.
The English-language news website Phuketwan posted a story last July carrying excerpts from a report by the Reuters news agency alleging that members of the Thai military were involved in trafficking captured immigrants from Myanmar's beleaguered Rohingya ethnic minority.
The charges against Alan Morison, the website's Australian editor (pictured), and his Thai colleague, Chutima Sidasathien (pictured) came several days after Reuters won a Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for its series on the violent persecution of the Rohingya — a Muslim minority that rights groups say has been subjected to systematic abuse and forced segregation.
The journalists appeared in a court on the southern island of Phuket to hear charges of defamation and violation of the 2007 Computer Crime Act. If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in prison and a fine of 100,000 baht ($3,010).
The navy filed the lawsuit against the pair in December. Human rights and press freedom groups have criticized the navy and urged that the charges be dropped.
Both defendants were released on 100,000 baht bail. - AP
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