By Lisa Gardner
Police investigations are now under way in the case of journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk, who was questioned by police on Friday over allegations that several of his articles, published on Prachatai.com, were in violation of Thailand’s lese majeste law.
It remains unclear whether the esteemed Thai journalist will be formally charged. Yesterday he met with police, “not as a suspect or defendant, but strangely enough – under Thai law – as a witness”:
They wanted me to acknowledge whether I had written those articles myself, in which I said yes, all seven of them were written by me. The editor of Prachatai was also questioned, to also acknowledge that all these articles were authorized by Prachatai before it was put up on the website.
Particularly, I was asked what my intention was, in writing all of these articles.
I said that the articles were written for the benefit of the public, an opinion piece which takes into consideration the problem of the lese-majeste law and its repercussions to society. I also told them that it was written on a pro bono basis and that I work full-time at the Nation.
In the modest Prachatai office, the police:
…asked about my educational background. I didn’t expect them to ask that! I’m not sure, since this is the first time I’ve been questioned by police in my life… it might be a standard question. I told them I had a postgraduate degree.
(They) were polite, and off-the-cuff they complained how troubled they feel with the seemingly never-ending police complaints made by this particular man, “iPad”… They (the police) have no choice but to process the whole thing.
They said it will take some time before they decide (whether to prosecute). Police officers will decide whether to the Central Police in Bangkok or not. It will take some time… no idea how long. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t want to pressure them.
… Police should handle the situation in a straightforward manner. I hold no grudges against the person who filed the charges against me. I even joked with police – there were three of them, the most senior, a Police Colonel, who I suppose is in charge – I handed them my name-cards, and told them if anything happened, to let me know so I could run in advance! (laughs)
I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about the other political prisoners… I’ve been told by some people… Surachai (prisoner of conscience) sent me a message. His wife told me: “run while you can!”
“I’m not running,” he says, circumspect, and characteristically direct. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Lisa Gardner is a freelance journalist based in Bangkok. Follow her on Twitter @leesebkk