Prachatai reporter arrested along with activists

Prachatai reporter arrested along with activists

RATCHABURI — Police have arrested a reporter from Prachatai news website along with three members of the anti-coup New Democracy Movement for violating the referendum law.

NDM leader Pakorn Areekul, two colleagues and journalist Taweesak Kerdpoka will stay overnight at Ban Pong police station after police did not grant them bail. Police will take them to Ratchaburi Provincial Court on Monday to seek approval to detain them further.

Police detained the four for questioning after they searched the NDM activists’ pickup truck and found documents which they said violated Paragraph 2 of Section 61 of the Referendum Act. 

The law says “any person who disseminates texts, pictures, sound in newspaper, radio, television, electronic media or any other channels that are distorted from the fact or having violent, aggressive, rude, inciting or threatening characteristics aiming to induce eligible voters to refrain from voting or vote in a certain way or abstain from voting, shall be regarded as a person who instigates trouble in order to cause disorder in the voting.”

Violators face imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of 200,000 baht.

Taweesak, 24, had gone to Bang Pong police station to report on 18 local activists being summoned to report to police on a charge of breaching the National Council for Peace and Order’s order No.3/2558 for opening an anti-fraud centre for the Aug 7 referendum. 

The NDM activists went to the police station separately to give moral support to the accused, and that their car was searched while they were about to leave, according to Prachathai. 

Taweesak "was in the car because he wanted to go back to Bangkok with the group. He had gone to report on the news," Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of the Prachatai website, said in an email to The Associated Press.

Taweesak was arrested even though he identified himself as a journalist.

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