Journalists Face Criminal Defamation Charges in Thailand

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  • TEMPO/Machfoed Gembong

    TEMPO/Machfoed Gembong

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Thai police will summon two Reuters journalists for writing a Pulitzer-winning article alleging Thai military involvement in smuggling Rohingya immigrants.

    "If they do not come, arrest warrants will be issued," Lieutenant Somkid On-Jan told AFP, adding that the summon letters would be sent to Reuters' overseas headquarters.

    As reported by The Daily Star on Tuesday, both journalists are believed to have left Thailand and it is unlikely that they will fulfill the summon.

    Reuters defended the journalists and said the coverage is "fair and balanced".

    The Thai navy is suing Australian journalist Alan Morison and Thai journalist Chutima Sidasathien for an article quoting the Reuters article. The two journalists face a two-year imprisonment for defamation charges and five years for breaching the Computer Crimes Act.

    The Human Rights Watch calls the cases involving the journalists as tarnishing Thailand's independence of media. Based on Reporters Without Borders' report in 2014, Thailand is in the 130th position out of 180 countries in press freedom index. This position is the best from 10 ASEAN members.