Journalist detained for attitude adjustment
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Journalist detained for attitude adjustment

Pravit in, Pichai due out, Karun unknown, Phumtham possibly next

Mr Pravit gestures before he was brought to Army Region 1 headquarters on Sunday. (Photo by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)
Mr Pravit gestures before he was brought to Army Region 1 headquarters on Sunday. (Photo by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

A senior journalist at <i>The Nation</i> has been detained by the army for an attitude-adjustment session since Sunday, according to his lawyer.

Pravit Rojanaphruk has been detained by soldiers since Sunday and it is not known where he is right now, Pavinee Chumsri, a lawyer with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, told BBC Thai on Monday.

"Early on Sunday, soldiers contacted Mr Pravit, asking him to meet them at the Army Region 1 headquarters in Bangkok at 3.30pm," she said.

Mr Pravit asked Ms Pavinee to accompany him as his lawyer and observer.

At the headquarters, officers told them lawyers are not allowed in to observe. After an hour, Ms Pavinee found out he had already been taken away. Officers would not tell her for how long he would be detained.

Mr Pravit was not allowed to bring with him his mobile phone.

He was summoned and detained once for seven days shortly after the May 22, 2014 coup. He has since been summoned by soldiers several times but not detained.

Mr Pravit tweets and posts on Facebook regularly, with 24,400 followers and 4,000 Facebook friends. The topics are mainly restrictions of freedom of expression and the lese majeste law.

The Nation in the afternoon called on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to immediately release the senior reporter.

"There is no justification whatsoever for his detention. If the military believes he has done something wrong, there are normal legal channels to deal with it," said The Nation’s group editor-in-chief Thepchai Yong.

So far no one has offered an official explanation for Mr Pravit’s detention and his family and colleagues have no idea where he is being held, he added.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand and the Thai Journalists Association also issued statements on Monday afternoon demanding Mr Pravit's release.  

Thai media also reported on Monday Pichai Naripthaphan, a former Pheu Thai party member and ex-energy minister, would be released from an attitude adjustment session on Tuesday after being detained for seven days.

It was not known why Mr Pichai was detained but he is a vocal critic of the government's economic policy.

The detention of Karun Hosakul, another Pheu Thai member, will reach seven days on Thursday but whether he will be released depends on how well he cooperates. If he continues to resist, he will be prosecuted for violating the NCPO's orders, the reports said.

Mr Karun earlier pledged on Facebook his unwavering loyalty to Thaksin Shinawatra shortly after the former prime minister was stripped of his police rank. His action was later brought up by Gen Prayut, who said there was law that could be used against persons who support criminals.

NCPO spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree said on Monday more people had been summoned in recent days because they publicised information that might affect peace and order.

"Recently, the content implicates other people or organisations and might confuse or mislead the public, especially on unproven issues."

He also said the junta was considering whether to summon Phumtham Wechayachai, secretary general of Pheu Thai party, for a session as well after he aired his views on the detentions of Mr Pichai and Mr Karun.

Mr Phumtham earlier said he was deeply concerned about such detentions, saying people should be allowed to express their opinions honestly.

On ex-commerce minister Watana Muangsook's accusation that he was punched by a soldier at a football field at Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi province, on Saturday, Col Winthai said more information was needed because it happened in a public place.

"We believe it's a personal matter. Mr Watana should have waited for more information on the case before accusing anyone.

"If the attacker turns out to be a soldier, his superviser will take action. The NCPO would not do what Mr Watana is concerned about," he said.

Mr Pravit poses for a photo before entering Army Region 1 headquarters on Sunday. (Photo by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

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