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Thailand 18 January 2007

Authorities taken to task for censoring former Prime Minister’s interview with CNN

Reporters Without Borders wrote to the Thai authorities today deploring the ban imposed by the Council for National Security (CNS) on 15 January on the broadcasting of an interview which former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave to the US television news network CNN.

“In our view, this measure is regrettable and contrary to your country’s interests,” the letter said. “Censoring or blocking news or information carried by any media does not prevent the information’s existence, and those who want to have access to it usually succeed.”

The letter added that, although taken on the grounds of maintaining order, the ban’s authoritarian nature just fuelled the spread of rumours and undermined the democracy by providing arguments to democracy’s most radical opponents.

On 15 January, the CNS asked cable television operator UBCTV to block access to CNN each time the interview was broadcast. The website was also blocked from 15 January until the evening of 16 January. The CNS had previously asked TV and radio stations on 10 January not to broadcast interviews with Thaksin or his representatives.

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