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Journalists defend press freedom in open letter to junta

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) has made a stand for press freedom as it prepares to submit a letter to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) calling on the junta to make clear its measures relating to the media.

The open letter will be submitted when representatives of the TJA meet with Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew, who is in charge of monitoring the media, at Government House, TJA spokesman Manop Thip-osod said yesterday.

"While freedom of the press must be ensured, the media are already regulated by a code of conduct as well as strong professional ethics. They must be responsible to society," Manop said.

However, the TJA said it was concerned that military officers had visited the editorial office of a newspaper on Wednesday and ordered it not to publish a report about a group of anti-coup activists.

After discussion with the NCPO officers, the consensus was that the misunderstanding stemmed from unclear announcements by the junta relating to the media.

Working groups

The NCPO has assigned five working groups, including Special Branch police, to look into information disseminated to the public via the media.

NCPO spokesman Winthai Suvari said yesterday that media organisations should not be unduly worried, as the junta had no intention of curbing the media. So far, it has only asked for the cooperation of the media in ensuring the accuracy of news.

He denied that the NCPO had told the media not to report about former Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan and his new anti-coup movement.

Separately, the military regime invited editors and media executives for lunch with NCPO secretary-general General Udomdej Sitabutr today at the Army headquarters.

Udomdej said he would answer questions from the media at the event.


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