Prachatai reporter faces defamation charge from senator over coverage of activists

Cover photo from: Chanakarn Laosarakham

Nutthaphol Meksobhon, a Prachatai reporter, faces a defamation charge filed by a senator over his coverage of an incident in 2023 where activists distributed leaflets, calling on senators to respect the people’s voice during the last prime ministerial vote.

Nutthaphol received a summons issued on 22 February, on a charge of being an accomplice in defamation. The complaint was filed by Senator Seree Suwanpanont, owner of the market where Nutthaphol went to cover the news. He is required to report to Watprayakrai Police Station on 8 March. The summons also revealed that more charges will be made against others.

The case is reportedly the same as the one filed by the same Senator against the detained activist Sophon Surariddhidhamrong, who has recently been charged with defamation for distributing leaflets at a market owned by the Senator on 1 August 2023, calling on senators to respect the people’s voice during the last prime ministerial vote. Nutthaphol is the Prachatai reporter who went to cover the activity on that day.

The leaflets carried the Senator’s picture along with the caption “Serve the dictator or follow the voice of the people.” Below this was a quote from a speech given by the Senator in 2019: “I like democratic authoritarian, but I do not like fake democracy”. The activists further accused the Senator of not bothering to go to parliament for the PM vote.

The detained activist faces three charges: defamation, causing property damage, and intimidating others.

Nutthaphol is the same reporter who was arrested on 12 February for his coverage of an incident in March 2023 where an activist sprayed graffiti onto the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

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