February 22, 2001
His Excellency Thaksin Shinawatra
Via facsimile: 66-2-282-8587
Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by reports that your government is threatening to deport Thailand-based journalists of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Thai-language newspapers reported on Friday that the Special Branch intelligence arm of the Thai police has drawn up a “blacklist” that includes the name of the Hong Kongbased magazine’s Bangkok bureau chief, Shawn Crispin, and recommends that he be deported.
CPJ has learned that the Special Branch is recommending the deportation of two other Thai-based correspondents for the magazine. Reports said that the publisher of the magazine, Phil Revzin, and its editor, Michael Vatikiotis, are also included on the blacklist and could be barred from entering the country.
Deportation proceedings could begin as soon as Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon signs a formal order.
The action stems from a January 10 item in the magazine that discussed tensions between Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the prime minister’s office. The article was largely based on public comments made by the king that were seen as critical of Your Excellency.
The government banned the January 10 issue from being sold in Thailand, claiming the magazine violated local press laws that forbid criticizing the monarchy.
As an organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ believes that the deportation of these reporters would constitute a gross violation of press freedom. This proposed blacklist seriously harms Thailand’s reputation for openness and tolerance.
This is a major issue not just for the journalistic community but also for the health of Thailand’s democracy and free press.
We respectfully call on Your Excellency to disavow the alleged blacklist, and we ask that your interior minister not sanction the deportation of foreign journalists named on the list.
We appreciate your attention and await your response.