New York, September 14, 2015– The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of Pravit Rojanaphruk, a prominent Thai journalist at the English-language daily The Nation, who is being held in military detention at an undisclosed location, according to reports.
Pravit was detained yesterday after he responded to a request to meet with authorities at the 1st Army headquarters in Bangkok, media reports said. The National Council for Peace and Order, which took power in a May 2014 coup, told reporters in a statement today that Pravit was detained because he had written articles that “could cause confusion and misunderstandings,” and which “go against the [Council’s] efforts to keep public order.” It is not clear how long the military can legally hold him.
“The detention of Pravit Rojanaphruk is the strongest indication so far of the National Council for Peace and Order’s intention to suppress critical comment about the way it is running Thailand,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The military authorities must release him immediately.”
This is the second time the reporter has been summoned by the National Council for Peace and Order since it came to power. Pravit, who is known for being a strong critic of the government, told the Oslo Freedom Forum earlier this year that he had been held by authorities for seven days in May 2014, at a time when dozens of politicians, political activists, and outspoken academics were being. Most of the detainees were accused of being associated with the ousted government.
Pravit has written stories criticizing Thailand’s lèse majesté law for several years, and has been critical of the 2014 coup. On September 12 Pravit, who is active on Twitter, posted, “At 12.35 two military officers visited my resident [sic] while I was away. Junta have my # so they can always call. Not running away. #Thailand.” He also shared a picture on Twitter that shows the journalist outside the military base he was summoned to in 2014, with tape covering his mouth.
In a statement about Pravit’s detention, The Nation’s group editor-in-chief, Thepchai Yong, said, “We see this as a direct threat to press freedom. If the military believes he has done something wrong, there are normal legal channels to deal with it.”
A spokesman for the junta, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, said in a text message to local reporters today that Pravit had received an “invitation” to talk with authorities, but did not disclose where the journalist is being held, according to The Associated Press.