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Issue of "The Economist" censored due to article on lese majeste

(SEAPA/IFEX) - The latest issue of "The Economist" has not been made available in Thailand as it contained an article discussing lese majeste, online sources said.

The website Thai Political Prisoners reported that the UK-based magazine sent the following email to its subscribers in Thailand:

"Dear Subscriber, We deeply regret to inform you that our distributors in Thailand have decided not to deliver the July 4th issues of 'The Economist' in light of our coverage relating to the lèse majesté law. We appreciate your continued patience and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We will be extending your subscription by one week to cover this missed issue."

The article referred to in the email, entitled "Treason in cyberspace," discussed the recent complaint filed against the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) accusing its board of lese majeste. The complainant alleged that the FCCT sold DVD copies of a 2007 speech at the club by Jakrapod Penkair, a former minister in the prime minister's office. The speech was controversial as authorities deemed it insulting to the monarchy. However, no lese majeste charge has yet been filed against Jakrapob.

Lese majeste is a criminal act in Thailand, with a maximum penalty of 15 years' imprisonment.

The blog Bangkok Bugle confirmed that the said issue is nowhere to be found in magazine outlets even where the latest editions of other foreign news magazines were already on display.

This is not the first time that local distributors refused to make issues of the news magazine available to the public.

The news magazine's 6 - 10 December 2008 issue was not circulated in Thailand because distributors said it contained an article that was critical of the monarchy's role in the country's political crisis.

The Thai police admitted that they had asked the distributors to withhold copies of the said issue from the local market.

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