- Posted December 26, 2013 by
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Journalist Alan Morison facing 'Jail' on Thai navy report
An Australian journalist could face up to five years in jail after he was charged on Christmas Eve with bringing the reputation of Thailand's navy into disrepute.
Alan Morison's online newspaper Phuketwan published a story five months ago that included a paragraph from a Reuters article critical of Thai authorities' handling of the Rohingya asylum seekers from Myanmar.
Both he and colleague Chutima Sidasathian are facing up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $350 after they were charged with breaching the country's controversial Computer Crimes Act and bringing the navy's reputation into disrepute. The pair are expected to face a Thai court next month.
Mr Morison is a former deputy editor of The Age.
''The Thai navy has a very good reputation for rescuing tourists and generally looking after Thailand's borders pretty well but the question of whether the Rohingya boat people are being handled in the way they should be … has been looked at pretty closely by the international media,'' he said.
A Reuters spokesman has backed the story, calling it ''fair and balanced''.
Critics of the Thai government have accused it of using the Computer Crimes Act to curtail human rights and free-speech campaigners.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said embassy officials in Bangkok were providing consular help.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is concerned about the journalists' plight and what the charges could mean for press freedom in the country.
''The MEAA expresses its deep concern for the journalists involved in this allegation and calls on Thai authorities to drop any charges against them,'' MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said.
Human rights activists, lawyers and academics across the world have also voiced support for the journalists.
If the navy does not drop the charges, Mr Morison said, a rally would be organised outside the Thai consulate in Melbourne to coincide with his court appearance.
The Royal Thai Navy could not be reached for comment.
Photographs: Being sued: Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian
Source: The Age National, Australia
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