Suranand denies blocking Abhisit interview

Prime minister's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva on Friday denied he had blocked a US media company from interviewing Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

  • Published: 11/05/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut shows a printout of an email to back up his claims that PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva dissuaded a US newspaper from interviewing Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Mr Suranand also said the opposition had tried to distort the facts and discredit the government.

His denial followed claims by Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut that an email from the USA Today newspaper to Mr Abhisit's personal secretary Somkiat Krongwattanasuk suggested the interview with the Democrat Party leader was blocked by Mr Suranand.

Mr Suranand said United World, an independent international media communications agency, had contacted the PM's Secretariat to ask to interview members of the government for a supplement with a special report on Thailand in USA Today.

The supplement would cover issues such as development of Thai-US relations, the celebrations for the 180th anniversary of which take place this year.

Mr Suranand said he permitted two United World representatives to interview him, but did not to talk to other interviewers.

Yesterday, Mr Chavanond showed a copy of an email that the Democrat Party spokesman said was sent by USA Today to Mr Somkiat, asking to interview Mr Abhisit.

Mr Somkiat sent a reply saying that Mr Abhisit was available for interview on either Tuesday, May 7 or Thursday, May 9.

The newspaper replied on May 3 that their staff would like to interview Mr Abhisit on Thursday.

Mr Chavanond said, however, that one hour after the reply, an internal USA Today email was accidentally sent to Mr Somkiat, saying that "Mr Suranand" had said the PM's Office would no longer give support to the group conducting the interviews if they interviewed Mr Abhisit, so the appointment should be cancelled.

An email was then sent to Mr Somkiat officially cancelling the interview.

Mr Chavanond urged Mr Suranand to confirm if he was the "Mr Suranand" to whom the US newspaper was referring.

Mr Chavanond said he would also write to ask USA Today to provide clarification on the matter.

If the newspaper confirms that it was Mr Suranand, the Democrat Party will petition the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate if the PM's Office had interfered with the media in violation of Section 46 of the constitution.

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