Thailand outraged by more YouTube posts mocking king

AFP , BANGKOK

Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 5

Thailand yesterday expressed outrage at the posting of two new videos mocking the country's revered king on the video-sharing Web site YouTube, pledging to maintain a ban on the site.

"This group of people has found another outlet, taking another action that is considered very offensive to the king," communications ministry spokesman Vissanu Meeyoo said.

"Thailand doesn't want to take this kind of action. We are just doing it temporarily," he said of the ban imposed on Tuesday.

The first video that prompted Thailand to block YouTube appeared to have been withdrawn by its creator, with a notice on the site saying it had been "removed by the user."

But two more clips, posted by users with different screen names from the original video creator, surfaced yesterday. The site was accessed in Bangkok via a foreign server.

Like the first video, one of the new postings showed images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's face covered with graffiti or juxtaposed with images of feet, considered deeply offensive.

Another clip showed pictures of the king that had been digitally altered to make him resemble a monkey, and carried messages saying Thailand's leaders are "evil and hate free speech."

The second video used an expletive to denounce the king and the government.

"Officials will meet this afternoon with an association of Internet users to discuss taking further action, after the parent company Google failed to give any cooperation," the communications ministry spokesman said.

"We need cooperation from Internet users to monitor these groups," he said.

A spokeswoman for YouTube said in remarks e-mailed to reporters before the new videos were posted that the company was "disappointed" with Thailand's ban of the site.

"We have asked the government to lift the block, and we look forward to the resumption of service to our Thai users," spokeswoman Julie Supan said.

The decision to block the entire YouTube site drew criticism from media freedom groups, who said the ban highlighted a growing trend for the military government to censor political expressions on the Internet.

Thailand's king is the world's longest-reigning monarch and one of few still protected by laws that prohibiting insults.