Thailand's Military Govt Detains Newspaper Reporter

By Grant Peck 15 September 2015

BANGKOK — Thailand’s military government has detained a reporter for an English-language newspaper, in what appears to be part of a fresh crackdown on critics of the ruling junta.

A spokesman for the junta, Col. Winthai Suvaree, said in a text message to local reporters Monday that Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior journalist for The Nation newspaper, had received an “invitation” for a talk with the authorities because of statements that could “cause confusion to the public.” Pravit has been a high-profile critic of the military regime that took over after a coup in May 2014 toppled an elected civilian government.

After turning himself in Sunday, Pravit was taken to an unidentified location and is being held incommunicado, according to The Nation. Detainees of the junta usually are held at an army camp.

Winthai said the length of Pravit’s detention depends on how cooperative he is. The detention process has been used since the coup, with the junta calling it “attitude adjustment.” To expedite their release, detainees are reportedly pressured to sign a statement promising to refrain from further public criticism.

The Nation’s editor-in-chief, Thepchai Yong, called for Pravit’s immediate release and said he would submit a letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to demand that he order Pravit to be freed.

“We see this as a direct threat to press freedom,” Thepchai said in a statement on The Nation’s website.

Pravit has written critical commentaries in The Nation and frequently posts his opinions on Twitter.

It is the second time he has been detained by the junta, which called in large numbers of politicians and potential dissidents in the months after the coup but appears to have begun a new round of detentions.

Last week, the military detained two politicians who had been critical of the junta, including a former energy minister. Both men were members of the Pheu Thai party, which led the government that was ousted by the army in the coup.