Thai junta censoring CNN's interview with Thaksin
Thailand's military leaders on 15 January moved to block CNN broadcasts of the cable network's exclusive interview with deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, less than a week after warning the Thai press about giving the ousted leader such access to the media.
Thai papers are reporting that the Council for National Security (CNS), as Thailand's ruling military council is known, had asked for the "cooperation" of UBCTV, Thailand's leading cable service provider, to pull the interview everytime it gets play from CNN. As of 16 January, the 3-minute segment was still being replaced by still images with no news audio.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Against Censorship-Thailand (FACT), a civil society movement monitoring the worsening censorship of the Internet in Thailand since the coup, reported that CNN's website, CNN.com, suddenly became inaccessible from the evening of 15 January to the morning of the 16th. Attempts to load up CNN.com repeatedly turned up error messages. CNN.com was accessible again by the morning of the 16th, but FACT suspects the involvement of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Thais' night-long inability to visit the website.
The CNS last week summoned media leaders to a meeting and requested that they refrain from airing comments from and interviews with Thaksin's lawyers and cronies. CNS spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said over an interview on Channel 3 that while CNS is still willing to listen to critics we just feel that it is inappropriate to listen to opinions of the old political party that was the cause of disunity and confusion in the country. Last week's meeting with the press marked the first time the CNS actually invoked military order No. 10 since issuing it on 20 September 2006, the day after it staged a bloodless putsch. The order urges media cooperation in reporting state affairs accurately and constructively, with peace and national unity as the primary considerations.