As a consortium of Southeast Asian press organizations committed to defending journalistic freedom in the region, we are deeply concerned by the recent development in Thailand which saw a journalist from Prachatai, our partner organization in Thailand, arrested and charged with a criminal offense. 

Background information 

On 12 February 2024, Thai police apprehended Nuttaphol “Pe” Meksobhon, a journalist from Prachatai news agency, and Nattaphon “Ya” Phanphongsanon, a freelance photographer, under an outstanding arrest warrant that charged them with a criminal offense in connection to their news coverage of an incident in March 2022, when an activist sprayed a graffiti bearing political slogans on the wall of the Grand Palace.

For their role in the news coverage, the police have filed a charge of “aiding” the vandalism of a historic site against Nuttaphol and Nattaphon, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison. Both men have denied the allegation and insisted that they were merely performing their journalistic duties.

Nuttaphol, the reporter from Prachatai, also said he was not aware that the police had opened a criminal investigation against him, and police officials had neither informed him of the charge nor summoned him for questioning prior to the arrest. 

The two media workers were subsequently denied a bail release by the police in charge of the investigation, forcing them to spend a night in a police station jail.  

Our response 

The nature of the investigation has a deeply disturbing implication for the press institutions in Thailand, as the police appeared to equate journalistic duty with endorsement of the alleged criminal act depicted in the news coverage. 

By prosecuting media workers for doing their jobs, the law enforcement officials have effectively implied that journalism itself is a crime – a precedent that would inevitably cause a widespread chilling effect on the rest of the press industry.

As pointed out by Prachatai executive editor Tewarit Maneechai, “The two media workers were there to report the news, and reporting the news does not equal endorsing any wrongdoing in the news.

“It is not our editorial stance to antagonize any side. We only seek to present the facts as they happened.” 

In the light of this disturbing situation, we call upon the Thai police to immediately drop their legal prosecution against Nuttaphol and Nattaphon, as well as compensating them for any physical or mental anguish they may have experienced throughout the ordeal. 

We also express our solidarity with our partner organization, Prachatai, and send our moral support to its staff members. We affirm our common message, shared by other media workers across Southeast Asia, that journalism is not a crime, regardless of what the authorities in this region may claim.  

Who we are

The Press Freedom Monitoring in Southeast Asia (PFMSea) is a consortium of 7 independent press associations and news agencies in six countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, and Thailand – to monitor attacks, threats, or violations committed against journalists, media workers, press institutions, as well as the press freedom situation in the region of Southeast Asia. We publish our findings, which are updated regularly, on 

Our partner organizations consist of: the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia,  Association Journalist Timor Leste, Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association, Centre for Independent Journalism, Gerakan Media Merdeka (Malaysia), National Union of Journalists Philippines, and Prachatai.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • You can align images (data-align="center"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.
  • You can caption images (data-caption="Text"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.