The prime minister on Friday threatened legal action against media outlets deemed to criticise him with allegations he deemed libellous.
But General Prayut Chan-o-cha said this was not an attempt to censor or intimidate the media.
“Don’t accuse me of blocking democracy. I am trying to steer the country towards a full democracy as best as possible,” he said. “I have never censored or restricted the media.”
The PM added that if he had fully exercised his power as head of the ruling junta, there would have been no such media attacks against him.
Prayut, who also heads the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said certain media outlets faced legal action because “they did too much distortion”. But he added: “Most people don’t want to have a problem with the media.”
He said it was time for him to take legal action against the media outlets he deemed to have attacked him unfairly.
“Just like when [the media] is sued by people over defamation, state agencies also need to protect their dignity. They have the right to protect themselves against untrue allegations,” he said.
“The media have to be careful. I am not threatening the media. You need to be accountable for what you do. There are good media and I have to thank them.”