Government action follows months of student-led street protests that saw royal motorcade heckled.
Police in Thailand are seeking an investigation of four independent media outlets and a protest group for their coverage of recent protests on suspicion of breaking emergency measures restricting information, according to a document that was published by local media on Monday.
“It appears that there was content that affected state security, peace and order, or the good morals of the people,” the document, dated October 16, quoted police as saying.
Police said they would ask Thailand’s broadcast regulator and digital ministry to investigate the outlets, which include Voice TV, The Reporters and Prachathai “and suspend broadcasting or remove computer information”, the statement said.
Police said there would be a briefing on the subject, but made no immediate comment.
In response, Prachathai said it was “honoured to report accurate info on human rights and political development” and would try its best to continue to do so. Thapanee Eidsrichai, founder of The Reporters, said the organisation had yet to receive an official order and the organisation would “continue to do its duty”.
Honored to report accurate info about human rights and political development in Thailand, we’ll try our best in continuing to do so. pic.twitter.com/d6uc8PinzF
— Prachatai English (@prachatai_en) October 19, 2020
The Thai government opted to increase its clampdown on the press, citing “national security.” They’re astonishingly tone deaf. One of the pillars of this movement is the empowerment of free expression/speech. But the gov continues to signal contempt for its people’s voices. https://t.co/rwSS9745BX
— Caleb Quinley (@calebquinley) October 19, 2020
The editorial board of the Thai Enquirer, which was not among those named in the document, voiced its support of a free media.
“Instead of dialogue, opening up discussions and press, the government has chosen to embrace its authoritarian roots and censor, shutdown, and intimidate journalists working to present the news,” Editor-in-Chief Cod Satrusayang wrote in a statement, urging the government to rescind the order.
Thousands of anti-government protesters took over key intersections in Bangkok on Sunday, despite a government ban on protests that was imposed on Thursday.
They are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a coup in 2014 and entrenched his position in elections last year, and the monarchy to be reformed.
A spokesman for the prime minister said on Sunday that Prayuth was concerned about the spreading protests and wanted to talk.