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BBC ‘willing to cooperate’ in activist’s lese majeste case

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THE BBC is willing to cooperate with police in their investigation of a royal defamation case against a student activist who is charged with sharing a BBC Thai-language article about the monarchy, a source at the Bangkok office of the UK-based media outlet said.

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s local office has not received any notification from the police or government agencies regarding an investigation into the lese majeste case, said the source, who requested anonymity.
“If [authorities] send an official letter or ask for cooperation, we hope to establish cooperation with them,” the source told The Nation yesterday. 
Local Thai media reported that investigators from the Royal Thai Police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) visited the BBC’s Thai office in Bangkok on Tuesday and found it closed, but police denied the reports. 
The source said the BBC’s Thai staff members normally work remotely and rarely come to the office. The news agency would probably reach out to authorities to make its position clear on the matter if it does not hear from officials, the source added. 
The controversial article widely shared on social media was translated from the original English version and published from the UK, the source said. None of the BBC’s Thailand-based staff members were involved in the article and the agency stood by its employees’ rights, the source added. 
Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, more commonly known as “Pai Dao Din”, a student activist based in Khon Kaen, is charged with breaching Article 112 of the Penal Code on lese majeste and the Computer Crime Act. He has been released on bail. 
“If the police want to interrogate concerned staff, they have to contact those based in the UK. Any police move against BBC’s Thai office would make the staff panic for no reason,” the source said. 
Meanwhile, Pol Maj-General Chayapon Chatchaidej, acting chief of the Special Branch Police Division 4, said yesterday that the Khon Kaen police station was investigating the case in collaboration with the TCSD. 
“The Khon Kaen investigators are collecting evidence. They also need help from the TCSD and certain organisations in areas that are beyond their capacity,” he said, referring to the TCSD’s visit to the BBC’s Bangkok office. If the investigators find enough evidence, they will press charges, he added. 
A source at the British Embassy said it had not been notified of any moves by the Thai government against the BBC’s Thai office.
Earlier, a junta spokesperson said the government would “issue a letter” to the embassy. 

Published : December 08, 2016