FOREIGN JOURNALISTS ORDERED DEPORTED
On 22 February, immigration authorities informed "Far Eastern Economic Review" bureau chief Shawn Crispin and correspondent Rodney Tasker that their visas had been revoked, the same day local newspapers reported that the journalists had been placed on a so-called "blacklist" of 46 foreigners considered threats to national security, say CPJ and RSF. Individuals named on the list would be expelled from the country or barred from entering it. Included on the list are "Far Eastern Economic Review" publisher Philip Revzin and editor-in-chief Michael Vatikiotis, as well as 13 members of the Chinese Falun Gong spiritual movement, adds RSF. The magazine's owner, Dow Jones Co., has formally appealed the immigration authorities' decision and is expected to receive a reply next week, says CPJ.
The move to expel Crispin and Tasker follows the 10 January publication of an article in the magazine which discussed tensions between King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's office. CPJ says the article was largely based on public comments the king made that were seen as critical of the government. Shortly after the 10 January issue came out, it was banned by the government and copies of the magazine were seized.
Although press freedom is guaranteed under the 1997 reformed constitution, it does allow for restrictions on the media in the name of "national security," says CPJ. In addition, the Penal Code includes a provision that makes it an offence â punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment â for anyone who "defames, insults or threatens" members of the Royal family, adds TJA. In its recent assessment of press conditions during the past year, the organisation reports numerous instances in which the Thaksin government attempted to interfere with news reporting, calling 2001 the "year of media interference." To view the report, see http://canada.ifex.org. ">http://canada.ifex.org/alerts/view.html?id=9931">http://canada.ifex.org.
For more information, see www.tja.or.th, www.seapabkk.org, www.cpj.org and www.rsf.org.