Tue, Feb 10, 2009 - Page 9 News List

Thai Internet community worried by threats to media freedom

By Charlie McDonald-Gibson  /  AFP , BANGKOK

“They are really turning the clock back with a medieval-style witch-hunt going on and you don’t have any transparency,” Giles said.

Three issues of The Economist have been pulled from the shelves by the Thai distributor in an act of self-censorship because they contained articles about the Thai royals and lese majeste.

When questioned in December about censorship, Abhisit said Thailand was not the only country that blocked Web sites carrying material deemed offensive.

“The details of which contents are blocked are different according to the traditions and the historical factors of each society,” he said.

Supinya said they had asked authorities many times for a list of the banned Web pages to no avail.

The communications ministry, meanwhile, announced it is setting up a “war room” to police the Web, claiming that thousands more sites insult the monarchy and therefore threaten national security.

Activists say, however, that the government’s policy will eventually backfire, as Thais will find an outlet to discuss topics crucial to their country’s future.

“You block one, 10 more Web sites will happen,” Chiranuch said.

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