Thailand's military leader has lashed out at journalists saying he would "probably just execute" those who did "not report the truth", in the latest outburst aimed at Thailand's media.
"We'll probably just execute them," Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday, when asked by reporters how the government would deal with those that do not adhere to the official line.
"You don't have to support the government, but you should report the truth," the former army chief said, telling reporters to write in a way that bolsters national reconciliation in the kingdom.
| Tweet by the emergency director at Human Rights Watch
Last month Prayuth said he had the power to shut down news outlets.
Prayuth, who is also prime minister, heads the ruling military junta or National Council for Peace and Order. He toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May, that followed months of protests aimed at ousting Yingluck.
Prayuth launched a crackdown on dissenters after seizing power in May. He has said Thailand is not ready to lift martial law, which gives the army sweeping powers, including for arrest and detention.
Bob Dietz, coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia Programme, condemned Prayuth's statement saying, the Thai leader "is being more than just gruff here, it's a threat".
"He is notoriously hot-headed, and prone to outbursts like this," Dietz said in a comment to Al Jazeera.
"Last September he announced a one-year plan to overcome the deep political fault lines in Thailand. So far the plan seems to just be to tell everyone to just be quiet and stop being critical of the government and each other."
In January the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom saying Thailand was at a sensitive juncture. Since taking power, the junta has made full use of martial law, which also bans all political gatherings.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies