Some good sense from the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China:
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China is appalled to learn that our colleagues, the entire board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, have been accused of committing lese majeste, a crime which could carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Police will investigate the 13-member board after a complaint was filed in connection with the selling of a DVD of a speech given at the FCCT by a former government minister. This speech was given two years ago.
This is a worrying development, because Thailand’s law on lese majeste is more and more used to restrict freedom of expression. Board member and BBC correspondent Jonathan Head has faced similar accusations in the past.
“The FCCC calls on the Thai authorities to respect freedom of the press and ensure that journalists can work there free of restraints,” said FCCC President Scott McDonald.
And from Japan:
The Board of Directors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan [FCCJ] is appalled to learn that the entire board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) has been accused of committing lese majeste, a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The FCCJ is also gravely concerned that in the recent past the Thai authorities have used the country’s lese majeste laws to restrict freedom of expression and have otherwise abused it for its own political ends.
The Board of the FCCJ is dismayed by reports that the 13-member Board of the FCCT will be investigated by police after a complaint was filed by a freelance translator.
To our knowledge, this is first time in recent history that journalists — and certainly foreign correspondents — have been collectively targeted for simply selling DVDs of a speech made at the FCCT by a former government minister.
We urge the Thai authorities to respect freedom of speech and provide guarantees that journalists will be permitted to carry out their duties free from intimidation.
The FCCT is the sole official representative of foreign correspondents based in Thailand, and we view any unwarranted legal action against the Board or any other member as not only attack on the rights of journalists in that country, but on correspondents throughout the world.