Thai junta denies targeting media after journalist arrest

Thailand's military government denied accusations on Monday that it was deliberately targeting the media one day after a local journalist was arrested for possessing documents deemed critical of the proposed constitution.

"The journalist was at a protest site and by chance a police search of his vehicle found illegal materials," government spokesman Winthai Suvaree told dpa.

The military and police did not have orders "to target the media," Winthai said.

Taweesak Kerdpoka, a reporter for Thai online newspaper Prachathai, was arrested in Ratchaburi province, around 100 kilometres west of Bangkok, along with four activists on Sunday.

Police charged the five with violating an election law that prohibits criticism of the proposed constitution as well as the upcoming constitutional referendum.

Police said they found documents and leaflets in Taweesak's car that illegally discussed the constitution.

"No one is above the law, not even journalists," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said. "If you commit a crime, we will arrest you, journalists or anyone else."

The junta has banned public discussion of the referendum and arrested activists and politicians under the new law.

Critics argue that such laws prohibit a discussion of the proposed constitution, which they say is undemocratic.

According to activists and both major political parties, the draft constitution will prolong military rule by allowing for a fully appointed upper house of parliament and provisions for an unelected prime minister.

Last update: Mon, 11/07/2016 - 10:56
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