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Checks on whether exiled group breaking laws

Clip to be scrutinised for legality as junta warns against helping exiles

Police are considering the legitimacy of the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD), launched by fugitive former interior minister Charupong Ruangsuwan, deputy national police chief Pol Lt-General Somyot Pumpanmuang said yesterday.

Charupong, wanted by police for defying a summons from the military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), announced the launch of FT-HD on Tuesday via social media.

Somyot said police were checking whether the statement issued by the organisation had violated any law.

Charupong read the FT-HD launch statement in a clip available on Facebook and YouTube, saying the new organisation would press for the return of democracy after Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha unseated the elected Pheu Thai Party-led government on May 22.

'Men in question facing arrest'

Meanwhile, the junta yesterday told foreign military attachés that Charupong and Jakrapob Penkair, a close aide to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, were wanted by Thai authorities and under arrest warrants.

Colonel Werachon Sukondha-patipak, a junta spokesman, mentioned the matter at a second briefing with military attaches of foreign embassies in Thailand at Army headquarters yesterday.

"Those who provide shelter or support to the two men should consider their actions carefully," Werachon warned.

He said Prayuth had assigned the Foreign Affairs Ministry to seek the cooperation of other countries in bringing exiled anti-coup politicians to Thailand to face prosecution.

Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Royal Thai Air Force chief and deputy chief of the NCPO, said he could not predict whether FT-HD would develop into a government-in-exile abroad.

Junta deputy spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said Charupong's campaign would have no impact on national security.

Winthai said the move would fail to capture the imagination of the public, as most Thais understood what the NCPO is trying to achieve. He added that the junta was not autocratic because its aim is to improve the democratic system.

Winthai said any move by Charupong to set up a government-in-exile might not prove popular with potential host countries.

"Many nations do not want such political movement in their countries because an intervention in the internal affairs of another country is bad political etiquette," he said.

"We should not overstate what is a piece of political sentiment conveyed over social media.

"Do not believe every piece of information."

Meanwhile, Sa-nguan Pongmanee, 70, former Pheu Thai Party MP for Lamphun, who also defied a summons to the NCPO, surrendered to crime-suppression police yesterday.

Accompanied by his lawyer, Sa-nguan said he had been out of Thailand since May 22, but refused to say where.

He said he had intended to return only when a new government was formed. However, he returned on June 10 after learning that he was on the list of people the NCPO wanted to speak to.

He said he did not return urgently because he has health problems and had not participated in any political activities.

Crime Suppression Division deputy commander Pol Colonel Prasobchoke Prommoon said police would ask the Bangkok martial court for approval to detain Sanguan after interrogation and fingerprinting.


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