Police spokesperson Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo defended the brief detention of journalists on Saturday morning after the clashes between the Pitak Siam anti-government protesters and police at Makhawan Bridge.
He has explained that some reporters and cameramen had no visible press badges or identification cards with them. Others, added Piya, were posing as reporters but were actually demonstrators.
Piya made the announcement at the National Police headquarters as two reporters lodged complaints that they were assaulted by police.
Piya said some reporters were on the back of the six-wheel truck that rammed the police cordon.
Of the journalists who were detained, those who could prove that they were reporters were quickly released, Piya said.
Piya said he had sent a video clip of the incident to the Thai Journalists Association (TJA).
“We are transparent regarding the matter and reiterate our respect for all media. Some [non-journalists] may have infiltrated and we charged them accordingly. It’s a lesson for the next time around – journalists on duty must have clear badges to prove their credentials,” said Piya.
Santi Tae-tia, 50, a cameraman for ASTV and Tosarit Wattanarat, cameraman for T-News, both anti-government television stations, lodged complaints at Nanlerng Police Station yesterday, saying they were assaulted by police, detained and had their cameras destroyed.
Santi said he showed his press card and journalist badge to no avail and was attacked by police. He added that he was forced to lie on the ground and kicked in the face, but he was able to protect himself with his hands. Santi said another journalist was assaulted. He and Tosarit were held in a detention van for more than an hour.
His camera and notebook computer were damaged and his camera was confiscated.
The two said they would petition the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) tomorrow.
The TJA issued a statement calling the police attacks an “overreaction and a threat to press freedom”.
The association will petition both the NHRC and the Office of the Government’s Ombudsman and urged other reporters and cameramen who may have been assaulted to come forward and report about it.