Newsletter: Journalists cleared of defamation charges in Thailand

On Tuesday, September 1, Thai journalist Chutima Sidasathian and Australian journalist Alan Morison, of news website Phuketwan, were acquitted by the Phuket Provincial Court of all criminal defamation charges.

In the ruling the judge, His Honour Justice Chaipthawat Chaya-ananphat, also said that it was not appropriate for authorities to use the Computer Crimes Act as a way of punishing journalists for defamation as this law relates to hacking and malicious software.  

They were charged with criminal defamation in April 17, 2014, after the defamation allegations were made in December 2013. They were charged, under articles 326 and 328 of the Thai Criminal Code and with violation of article 14(1) of the Computer Crimes Act. The charges followed the republication on the Phuket-based website on July 17, 2013, of a single paragraph from a Reuters special report on Rohingya boat-people, which alleged the Thai Navy’s involvement in the boat people issue.  

The IFJ-AP and Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) sent Australian Barrister, Mark Plunkett to be an international observer of the trial and verdict. He said: “This is a timely reminder to call for a repeal of pernicious criminal defamation and computer crimes law that threaten the freedom of speech for all people in Thailand but are directed at stifling the freedom of news media by threatening and intimidating all journalists reporting on news in Thailand.”

Read more here and read the trial monitoring of the case here.