Reporters Without Borders

US citizen interrogated by Thai officials for his online activities

US citizen interrogated by Thai officials for his online activities

Published on Friday 7 May 2010. Updated on Saturday 8 May 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders and the World Organization for Human Rights USA (“Human Rights USA”) are outraged that Anthony Chai, an American citizen from California, was interrogated by Thai officials in Thailand and again later in the U.S. for allegedly insulting the monarchy in 2006. Originally from Thailand, Chai was granted US citizenship in the late 1970s. He faces possible arrest if he returns to Thailand.

In 2006, Thai officials also contacted the company who hosted http://www.manusaya.com, the website where comments about the Thai king were traced to Chai’s business computer. It is believed that Chai’s IP address was provided by the web hosting company without his knowledge. In response, the U.S.-based hosting company shut down the website.

“We are concerned about the widespread impact of Thailand’s lese majeste laws, including the direct implications for nationals of other countries, especially at a time of political tension through out the country.” the organizations said. “Chai’s case seems to show that American authorities do not object to foreign officials interrogating US citizens on American soil . Even more scandalous, Thai officials can require American firms to comply with Thai laws even when operating in the US . This is contradictory to US law and protection of national business. We are urging the Department of Justice to take action regarding this case”, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights USA declared.

Anthony Chai told Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights USA: ”According to one of the officials who came to interrogate me, he said he wanted to finish his report and to secure documents, booklets relating to the Thai monarchy. Fearing that I might not be able to go back to Thailand, I did cooperate with him, the Thai prosecutor and a palace representative fully. They were a party of three. I answered whatever he needed for his police report and gave him some literature and booklets regarding the Thai monarchy that my assistant and I had received in the mail during the past years. I was shocked to learn that Thai authorities have decided to file a lese majeste charge against me.”

The Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution states: “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Read more about the situation of freedom of speech and Thai lese-majeste law : http://en.rsf.org/thailand.html and http://en.rsf.org/surveillance-thailand,36673.html.

Reporters Without Borders is an international press freedom organization that defends the right to inform and to be informed. World Organization for Human Rights USA (“Human Rights USA”) is an American non-governmental organization working through impact litigation to ensure that U.S. laws are consistent with universal human rights standards.

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