New York, July 2, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists rejects the
politically motivated lese majeste charges filed on Tuesday by a private
citizen against board members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
(FCCT). Violations of lese majeste laws are a criminal offense in
charges were filed by Laksana Kornsilpa, a translator and a sympathizer of the
to local press reports, Laksana claimed in her complaint that the FCCT violated
The FCCT's board is composed of representatives from several major international news organizations, including Inter Press Service correspondent and FCCT President Marwaan Macan-Markar, BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, Wall Street Journal reporter Patrick Barta, Bloomberg's Daniel Ten Kate, Channel News Asia's Anasuya Sanyal, Business Times' Greg Lowe and The Straits Times' Nirmal Ghosh. The complaint also named local Thai PBS television reporter Karuna Buakamsri, and the Bangkok-based Nation's Jim Pollard.
"We reject these frivolous
charges against the FCCT, which are clearly aimed at undermining press freedom
Thai law allows any citizen to
bring complaints against anyone they believe has insulted the country's
monarchy. The charges brought against the FCCT are the latest in a flurry of
politicized accusations and counter-accusations that have become part and
Jakrapob, now in self-imposed exile for his anti-government protest activities, faces lese majeste charges over comments he made during his FCCT presentation. Similarly, BBC correspondent Jonathan Head currently faces three different counts of lese majeste, all filed by the same senior Thai police official, for his public comments and reports that have touched on the monarchy.
The FCCT and its members have
come under growing official harassment. Police officials last December
requested a DVD recording of an FCCT event titled "The State of Politics and
the Way Forward for
The FCCT announced on December 24 that it was suspending sales of that particular event's recording, saying in a statement that "DVD recordings of Club events had been misused by certain individuals with their own agendas."
Thai authorities have also cracked down in recent months on thousands of Web sites for posting materials deemed by authorities as offensive to the monarchy.