13 community radio stations ordered closed, 3 media workers arrested, for airing lese majeste speech

Government authorities raided 13 radio stations in Bangkok and nearby provinces, shutting down 12 of them, for allegedly airing a speech by an opposition leader that was considered defamatory to the royal family, media reports said.

The “Bangkok Post” said officers from the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the Crime Suppression Division, along with local police, brought court warrants to the community radio stations and confiscated their equipment. Three radio station personnel were arrested.

The “Bangkok Post” quoted Royal Thai Police spokesman Major General Prawuth Thawornsiri as saying that the raid was carried out upon the orders of ISOC after the stations were accused of airing a speech made by Puea Thai Party Member of Parliament Jatuporn Prompan on 10 April 2011 which was deemed defamatory to the monarch. Jatuporn is now facing lese majeste charges.

Seven of the stations were operating in Bangkok.

“The Nation” said that four of the 13 stations were run by the Red Shirts. Two of these were identified as 105.40 MHz channel and the 96.35 MHz “Red Skills” station, both in Pathum Thani, a province adjacent to Bangkok. A disc jockey from the former and the head of the latter were arrested, but both have posted bail of THB75,000 (USD2,500) each.

The third media personnel who was arrested was identified as Lek Suphan, who is program host of the 105.75 MHz “Ruam Jai Thai” channel. He was arrested from the station’s studio in Lat Phrao, Bangkok.

According to “The Nation”, some 300 Red Shirt protesters barred policemen from entering the compound of FM 89.85 Kon Thai Huajai Diew Kan station in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district.

At the height of the political crisis last April, the government declared a state of emergency on 7 April, which was followed by the shutting down of satellite-broadcast television stations and numerous community radio stations, most of which are run by the Red Shirts.

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