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Thailand 18 May 2007

Three community radio stations closed for broadcasting Thaksin interview

Reporters Without Borders condemned the military government’s closure yesterday of three community radio stations - Confidante, Taxi Driver Community Radio and Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship - just hours after they broadcast an interview with deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The authorities have also charged them with violating “national security.”

“The closure of the three radio stations and the warning to some 3,000 other local stations are utterly reprehensible,” the press freedom organisation said. “The government does not do itself any favours with this kind of authoritarian intervention, which violates free speech. The three stations must be allowed to resume broadcasting at once.”

This was the first time Thaksin has given an interview to Thai radio stations since his ouster in a military coup on 19 September 2006. He spoke with Confidante from London, where he is living in exile. In the interview, which was also broadcast by Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship and Taxi Driver Community Radio, Thaksin urged his voters to hold on, and said it would not be in the country’s interest for the election to be postponed.

Shortly after the interview was broadcast, Confidante received a visit by a delegation from the military government, which confiscated the recording of the interview and closed the station down. Legal proceedings were initiated today against Confidante and Taxi Driver Community Radio while the server of Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship, which is only available on the Internet, was blocked.

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