Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian. Pic: Phuketwan.com.

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Thai authorities have charged two journalists with defaming Thailand’s navy in an online news report about the trafficking of refugees from Burma.

The Australian editor of the Phuketwan website Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian appeared at a court Thursday on the southern island of Phuket to hear charges of defamation and violation of the computer crime act. If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in prison and a fine of 100,000 baht ($3,010).

(MORE: Phuketwan journalists face jail over reprint of Pulitzer-winning story)

Phuketwan posted a story last July carrying excerpts from a report by the Reuters news agency alleging that members of the Thai military were involved in trafficking captured illegal immigrants from Myanmar’s beleaguered Rohingya ethnic minority. The navy filed the lawsuit in December.

Human rights and press freedom groups are urging the charges be dropped.

(MORE: Pulitzer prize, Reuters, Rohingya, the Thai Navy, and Phuketwan)