The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticizes the conviction against a Thai editor and calls for his immediate release.
Nut Rungwong was the editor of Thai E-News and was sentenced on Monday to four and half years, which was half the original sentence because he pled guilty, for defaming Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej under the country’s lѐse majesté laws. Rungwong was arrested and had his home raided on May 25, three days after the army took control of the country from the elected government.
Rungwong has been sentenced for publishing an article in 2009, written by Thai university professor and political writer, Giles Ungpakorn, who currently lives in exile in London after facing similar charges under the lѐse majesté laws.
The lѐse majesté law, Article 112 of the criminal code, protects the Thai Royal Family from criticism and puts journalists under the risk of up to 15 years in jail, simply for doing their job honestly. Last week, a red-shirt podcast programme host was sentenced to ten years in jail under these same laws.
The IFJ joined the National Union of Journalists, Thailand and the Thai Journalist Association earlier this month in condemning the oppressive media law in Thailand and calling for them to be immediately revoked. Thailand’s media is suffering from a series of direct interventions from the army and attacks on the press, since Martial Law was implemented in May this year with more than 100 websites, 15 radio stations being shut down by the military government.
The Press Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and the Thai Society of Professional Broadcasters jointly issued an open letter to the Peace and Order Maintaining Council (POMC) to review all orders related to the restriction of the media freedom issued since 22 May.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Acting Director said: “The state of press freedom in Thailand is continuing to become a worrying trend across the Asia Pacific region. The actions by the Thai military to intervene and reprimand journalists is creating an unstable media environment, at the detriment to Thai society. Journalism is fundamental to Thailand’s stability allowing the Thai people to be aware of what is going on and during times of turmoil journalists more than ever to inform its citizens in a time of political turmoil.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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