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Phuketwan journalists charged with defaming Thai Navy

Phuketwan journalistsAlan Morison and Chutima Sidasathien, journalists at Thai news website Phuketwan, have been charged with defaming the Royal Thai Navy.

The duo appeared in court today over an article that carried a paragraph that quoted a Reuters story about the trafficking of Rohingya immigrants.

The charges brought against them were defamation and violation of the Computer Crime Act, and they spent five hours in cells beneath Phuket Provincial Court as a preliminary to their trial, which starts on May 26.

If found guilty, Chutima and Morison could face up to seven years in jail and a fine of 100,000 baht (US$3,016).

The charges come just days after Reuters won a Pulitzer Prize for its series on the persecution of the Rohingya.

“To us, it’s still very much a case that shouldn’t be going to court, and sadly it’s going to damage Thailand’s reputation as a democracy because these kinds of cases shouldn’t occur in any democracy,” Morison said in a story from Australian news outlet SBS.

The journalists launched a campaign for press freedom last month in the run-up to their court hearing, with support from Australian journalists’ union and the International Federation of Journalists.

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