IFJ Condemns “Savage and Punitive Intimidation” of Thai Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the $10 millions (400 millions Bahts) libel suit filed by the Thai media and telecommunications giant Shin Corp against Supinya Klangnarong, a journalist and press freedom activist.

“This is a savage and punitive example of intimidation” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, “such an attempt to ruin a journalist will lead to outrage and indignation among journalists over the world. We shall support Supinya Klangnarong in her defence and do everything we can to expose this injustice”.

Supinya Klangnarong works for the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR). In an article published by the Thai Post in July 2003, she suggested that the Shin Corp was a major beneficiary of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s policies. As a matter of fact, the family of the Prime Minister holds a major stake of the Shin Corp, which controls a huge part of Thailand’s private broadcasting and telecommunications sector. The current suit has been filed this week against Ms. Supinya and three other editors. It comes in addition to an earlier criminal libel case. If found guilty on all charges, they could even be imprisoned, in addition to the $10 million penalty.

The IFJ notes that on 6 September, the same day as Supinya's case will be heard in Thailand, a court in Indonesia will give its verdict in the case of defamation against three journalists who risk to go to jail. “These repressive trends are shocking”, says the IFJ. “They increase self-censorship of journalists and are a real threat against freedom of expression and democracy”.

Ms. Supinya told the IFJ that she felt both depressed and under great stress. She needs all the help and support that media organisations and civil society groups can provide. General Secretary Aidan White pledged that the IFJ would continue to highlight the cases in Thailand and Indonesia as prime examples of the use of defamation laws to undermine free journalism. “In Thailand the additional undue influence of the government in the media adds considerably to our concerns”, said White.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.