[FACT comments: Here we are, in another place, back to the intermediary liability boondoggle. Only if ALL intermediaries refuse to cooperate with this bullying will any of us be safe on the ‘net. It’s about free speech.]
Oil Company Sues ISP, Kills Greenpeace Protest Site Against Them
Falkvinge on Infopolicy: June 20, 2012
Greenpeace protests an oil company with a parody site. The oil company files a lawsuit against the ISP of Greenpeace, claiming copyright monopoly violation of the company’s look and feel. The ISP shuts down the Greenpeace protest site immediately, complying with the threat from the oil company, without fighting the lawsuit or waiting for the court. Yup: the abuse-friendly copyright monopoly is now abused by oil companies to suppress Greenpeace, too.
Greenpeace had launched nestespoil.com, a protest site against Finnish oil company Neste Oil, highlighting how their practices lead to deforestation and increased carbon emissions. Neste Oil were not amused, and launched a lawsuit. Not a lawsuit against Greenpeace, mind you, but against their Internet Service Provider, Loopia.
Neste Oil filed the lawsuit in the district court of Västmanland in Sweden, where Loopia is based. According to Greenpeace, the oil company has also filed a complaint with WIPO, demanding the transfer of the domain nestespoil.com from Greenpeace to the oil company Neste Oil.
Greenpeace’s original protest site, NesteSpoil.com, still leads to the blocked-site placeholder closed.loopia.se. In the meantime, Loopia competitor Binero has approached Greenpeace and offered to put the site back up, asking Neste Oil in public to take a hike. Greenpeace has also put the site back online under nestespoilreturns.com, with a big banner telling the story of Neste Oil’s bullying of the protest site.
This is the exact result of intermediary liability for copyright monopoly violations. We’ve been talking about this all the time – it leads to extrajudicial suppression of speech that somebody doesn’t like. It’s more than time to declare the copyright monopoly inapplicable to nonprofits, like Greenpeace, and to private individuals.
Agence France-Presse: June 4, 2012
A Bangladeshi student faces sedition charges after he allegedly posted comments on Facebook linking the nation’s premier with the disappearance of an opposition leader, police said Sunday.
Facebook on a laptop in Dhaka in May 2012. A Bangladeshi student faces sedition charges after he allegedly posted comments on Facebook linking the nation’s premier with the disappearance of an opposition leader.
Sohel Molla, alias Sohel Rana, was arrested last month after being beaten up by supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University at Trishal, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Dhaka.
“Some students became angry after they saw his remarks on Facebook where he said opposition leader Ilias Ali had no chance for freedom because he was caught by Sheikh Hasina,” Trishal police chief Firoz Talukdar told AFP.
Ali, a regional head of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been missing since mid-April. The BNP has accused state security forces over the disappearance — a charge denied by the government and the forces.
“He wrote that Ali would have been freed had he been caught by a jungle tiger. But this jungle tiger is Sheikh Hasina,” Talukdar said, adding that if found guilty under sedition charges Molla could face a maximum life sentence.
Talukdar said police had sought the home ministry’s permission to charge the 21-year-old English literature student. “We’ve completed our investigation and found that his Facebook remarks are seditious,” he said.
Home minister Sahara Khatun told Bengali daily Prothom Alo the student would be charged with sedition.
“We have decided to press sedition charges against him. In future, whoever is found making such indecent and bad remarks against the prime minister will face sedition charges,” she said.
Molla is the second student to be arrested over alleged postings on Facebook this year. In January police detained Al Nayeem Jubaer, 19, from his village west of Dhaka, for posting obscene remarks about Hasina’s father on the social networking site.
Also that month a 29-year-old Bangladeshi was sentenced in absentia to six months in jail after posting a Facebook message that appeared to wish for the prime minister to die in a car accident.
Ruhul Khandaker, who has been studying in Australia since 2009, will also be prosecuted for sedition and the courts have asked the foreign ministry to bring him back to the country.
June 10, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: We find this practice particularly vile and reprehensible. Though it is not being used against defenceless teenaged girls as in Manager, it is still incitement to violence. The laws against threats must be applied equally to those who threaten the King…or anyone else!]
2Bangkok: June 7, 2012
From Voice of Taksin, February 15, 2010
The headline reads: The lists of the judges to give the verdict in the case involving the seizure of 7.6 billion baht
From left to right are the judges’ names: Thanit, Pairoj, Somsak, Prateep, Adisak, Riththep, Pithak
[The article is a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of each judge. This comes after articles on Oliver Cromwell, punishing judges at the Nuremberg trials, and assassination.]
The recent intimidation of judges by revealing their phone numbers is nothing new. In the buildup to the 2010 protests in Bangkok, Red Shirt publications listed personal contact details of judges involved in Thaksin’s assets seizure along with articles detailing historical assassinations of the unjust.
Traditionally, Thai governments have expected to be totally exempt from pressure from the public or other checks and balances once they are in power. The independent organizations and judiciary oversight enshrined in the 1997 constitution were an anathema to many in the Thai political world.
As was witnessed during the Thai Rak Thai government era, subverting or otherwise exerting control over any possible check and balance on the sitting government was a priority.
In subsequent years, the activities of the judiciary in disbanding the Thai Rak Thai and People Power Parties, confiscating Thaksin’s assets, and now halting the government from amending the constitution means the courts remain in the cross-hairs of the pro-Thaksin camp.
Independent checks and balances are still a new concept in Thailand and are often lumped into the same group as the shadowy and unnameable extra-political forces that continue to exert influence on the political world.
Thus, it may not be surprising that the Thai definition of democracy, in response to criticism over issues as diverse as the thinly veiled amnesty bills for Thaksin to the mass killings of suspected drug dealers, is simply “we have the most votes.” Similar thinking can be seen in the nascent democracies developing in Pakistan, Venezuela, and Russia.
June 10, 2012
I may have be called ‘tactless’ in the past for my own strong opinions but I shall attempt to mediate between FACT signer Pravit and FACT signer Andrew.
When I posted Pravit’s article about Andrew based on Twitter exchanges, Andrew instantly commented that my statement, “More censorship…for morons” was directed at him. So, if I may say so, Andrew is a little hypersensitive. Pravit regularly ignores some of my actions in extremis but we remain friends and colleagues.
FACT has always called for the use of existing laws within their precise legal definitions to deal with various offences rather than the present system which is to censor without regard to law.
Laws in any democratic rule of law exist by virtue of precise definitiion. The L-M law, Article 112 of the Criminal Code, is a perfect example. To be guilty of L-M, an accused must have threatened, insulted or defamed the monarch: nothing more, nothing less. And yet we see ludicrous trials resulting in long prison sentences when none of these conditions had been met.
There’s freedom of expression and then there’s real life. Threats of murder, rape, beheading (or incitement to the same) are illegal in any rule of law—they are criminal acts. They relate to the sense of personal safety which civilisation allows us to feel and considers some ‘lone gunman’ might actually follow through on these threats.
Such statements are not protected speech nor do they fall under anyone’s definition of freedom of expression. To think otherwise would mean our society would degenerate into chaos and likely become an armed camp as a means of ensuring our personal protection.
Equally unprotected speech, in FACT’s opinion, are campaigns of vilification (I could use the term “hate speech” but that’s such a loaded concept) which result in the loss of one’s good reputation (Amphon, Chiranuch), livelihood (Jitra) or education (Kanthoop).
Manager is absolutely guilty of all of these against these folks and many, many others. However, the ordinary Thais Manager attacks are hardly in any position of time and finances to take Manager to court for defamation. Frankly, I’m certain there must have been such instances from the Red side but none leap to mind perhaps because of the decentralisation of the Reds with none of the power or money of Manager’s Sondhi.
At root of all of these is the basic concept of tolerance for the views of others. Censorship of genuine freedom of expression of viewpoints and opinions (not used for attacking anyone) has resulted in a kind of hypersensitivity where commentary is considered insult. For example, Pravit calling Andrew a foreigner (undeniable) seems to have made Andrew crazy. Then Andrew calls Pravit privileged. So effing what? These are not insults, boys, simmer down.
We’re not burn victims here! Grow a skin. Suck it up and shut up! So what?
Photos of Redshirt corpses with incendiary comments of Facebook obviously violate Facebook’s terms of service. So complain to Facebook don’t try to get MICT to block the offensive page.
I have read and re-read Pravit’s article to see if I’d missed something. I simply can’t see how he’s defending Manager identifying this young woman; surely it can be easily construed as an invitation to violence against her as evidenced in the comments to this article. (It remains to be seen who will be charged with L-M for posting Orm’s picture with her sign!)
However, journalist Pravit thinks it would be wrong to shut down Manager on the basis of ‘hate speech’. FACT concurs—censorship is not the answer. How many Red magazines, TV stations, community radio stations were shut down? Somyot is a political prisoner exactly because of censorship of his magazine. The actions we take against others are the actions can be used against us.
Pravit sensibily suggests warning and censure of Manager from governing organisations and also that the young woman should consider filing a complaint. (I can’t imagine she’d get much legal satisfaction and might well earn herself a L-M charge.) I strongly disagree with Pravit, however, that the young woman is guilty of anything other than her Constitutionally-protected freedom of expression. Certainly the views on her sign are in no way extreme. So she doesn’t love the King…so what?
I get the sense Pravit is mentioning canine pedigree as humour; there is no indication he felt insulted. More than once I myself have felt pity for those who insult me because…well, because they’re so damned stupid!
Thinking people need to take care of one another, not sow needless divisions between us. I think Andrew may not have carefully considered what Pravit was saying before he tweeted. He may be have blinded to open-mindedness for what exactly Pravit was saying/ Andrew, this is also evidenced in your follow-up article in which you question Pravit’s background and connections. It’s quite simply amazing the conservative Nation didn’t sack him long ago! (Maybe he has their secrets!)
I have no such respect or connections despite long residence and obvious passion for Thailand. I express my opinions without fear. I have certainly been insulted and threatened from time to time. So what? (Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke!)
When we founded FACT in 2006, the int’l freedom of expression NGO, Article XIX, refused to join our initiative because our position was, and is, NO CENSORSHIP! NO COMPROMISE! They wanted our position changed to advocate censoring hate speech. There’s a line between freedom of expression and incitement to violence. Holocaust-denial is crazy, for sure, but it’s protected speech.
Andrew quite correctly states that the UK protects public debate “free from threat and intimidation” by broadcast and press regulations which sanctions include fines and the recension of broadcasting licences. This method starts out by a warning shot across the bows of media getting too aggressive not by outright censorship. I think Pravit would agree this is a sensible and egalitarian approach.
I intend to read The Media and the Rwanda Genocide for further insights; it is available for free on Google Books. But we’re not Rwanda here (machetes and rape hardly fit anyone’s definition of free speech) but we’d better mitigate censorship in Thailand if we don’t want to be the next Burma.
We should be mature enough to use laws not censorship. Existing laws are in place to combat defamation, threats and intimidation. Should we need broadcasting and press laws as in the UK, then the NBTC is the proper forum for advocacy.
We have posted both Andrew and Pravit frequently to FACTsite. The only reason I’m writing here is because I respect both of them. We need more of their thoughtful opinions. We need solidarity not division among the few progressives not silenced by fear. So…make it up, boys, and play nice!
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
June 10, 2012
What kind of “liberal” defends the intimidation of young women?
Prachatai: June 2, 2012
This article is, of course, in reply to Pravit’s article directed at my Twitter responses to his stated position – that he privileges the rights of large powerful media companies to intimidate, harass and threaten young Thai women, over the rights of these young Thai women to live their lives free of such intimidation. Pravit makes his case by using such emotive words as “censorship” and “freedom of expression” but avoids equally powerful words such as “death threats”, “fear”, “rape” and “beheading.”
That he describes me as “foreign supporter of the red-shirt movement” in his opening paragraph leads me to be in a position where I can introduce the irrelevance of Pravit’s personal background as well. The British-educated Pravit is from a very privileged elite Thai family and works for The Nation – a newspaper that has itself published its fair share of incitement whilst aligning itself with the extreme rightwing politics of the PAD/Dem Party. Of course, I’d prefer to refer to Pravit as a “colleague” but his opening paragraph reveals that he considers my “foreignness” a more important point to consider than my actual arguments themselves.
I want to begin by utterly rejecting Pravit’s continued use of “false equivalence.” No, a Red Shirt being annoyed about someone criticizing Thaksin is not equivalent in any way shape or form to the terror of 112. One is intolerance on a personal level, which, I’m afraid will always exist but can be questioned and debated. The other is a legalized form of intolerance designed for political purposes only and to inflict fear into the hearts of critics. 112 comes complete with courts, police, prisons, army, cells, shackles and lengthy prison sentences. An intolerant Red Shirt is more likely to come with ear hurting shrieks and is not backed up by any law or form of state sanction. I’ve never personally encountered one single Red Shirt anywhere calling for a 112 law to defend Thaksin and challenge Pravit to come up with evidence of that. There is rationally, legally, factually and intellectually no equivalence whatsoever between the two and to claim so is a deceit.
Secondly, Pravit’s other equivalence is completely undone when he compares Orm’s placard to Manager’s incitement. What nonsense. One is a private individual expressing her opinion the other is large, powerful media company whose sole aim is to incite a threatening hate campaign in order to deter Orm and other persons from expressing their opinions. To then claim that doing anything to prevent a powerful media company like Manager from attacking a single woman like this is “censorship” is, once again, a deceit. Preventing incitement is preventing criminality, nothing more, nothing less.
And this points to the deceit at the centre of Pravit’s thinking. Not everyone is powerful, educated, linked to rich families and has a job at a national newspapers. Some people just want to express their opinion and nothing more. They don’t have the power, family connections to deal with such threats and intimidations. They simply have to live with the awful, debilitating consequences of these threats/intimidations just to protect some journalist’s intellectual musings on what he considers to be “freedom of expression”.
What follows now is a slight re-write of something I wrote back in August 2011 and it refers to the well-known story of Kantoop – the single 17-year-old woman who had a massive hate campaign launched against her and whom almost had her life destroyed by that campaign. It also looks at the case of Rwanda – a developing country in Africa which experienced a terrible genocide, partly inspired by the kind of people and actions whom Pravit would’ve wanted to protect the rights of. In quite horrifying terms Rwanda is THE case-study of the limits of freedom of expression. That these limits are even more important in the kind of tense situation as that facing Thailand, is an issue that Pravit and his acolytes can’t duck. If he doesn’t, well, any resulting bloodshed produced by the types of incitements Pravit wants to protect will be on his hands.
Back in 2010, as the Thai people were busy counting the corpses resulting from former-PM Abhisit’s Bangkok massacre, a young 17-year-old girl left a message on her public Facebook page. The message was a rebuke to Thailand’s royalty that was so mild it didn’t even attract a charge under Thailand’s draconian lese majeste. But what it did attract was something far more sinister.
Within days of making the comment this young woman began to attract a vicious and prolonged hate campaign. Threats to physically attack and murder her were made in their 100s. Her home address and personal details were shared via social media, while her family also experienced similar levels of intimidation.
The people leading this campaign didn’t engage in a debate about the merits or not of what this young woman said (I am neither defending nor attacking her comments) but just poured out an endless stream of incitement to violence. It was as disgusting and revolting a thing I have witnessed in Thailand and absolutely breached this woman’s freedom of speech and her right to live a life free of such threats. Real-life consequences followed as universities withdrew offers of places on undergraduate courses and she became terrified to step out onto the street. She even changed her name and re-applied but was tracked down and attacked again.
What did the government or police do to protect this young woman’s rights? Absolutely nothing. In fact they remained resolutely silent, not only during that particular hate campaign, but also when Thailand’s far-right began to set-up Facebook pages filled with photos of dead Red Shirt activists entitled “I enjoy seeing Red Shirt corpses”. Broadcast media discussing political matters were censored and shut down while the extreme-right, who spewed out often racist, threatening programming remained untouched.
Fast-forward to 2011 and I am attending a discussion on Thailand’s lese majeste law at the Prachatai offices in central Bangkok. One of my friends, a highly-respected Thai human rights advocate and I are having a private chat on civil disobedience. “It’s very hard to say anything about lese majeste,” he told me. “And that’s not because of the police and the courts. It’s more about the kind of threatening hate campaign Thailand’s extreme rightwing media engage in. They threaten your family, your friends, publish your home address and spread nasty malicious lies. I am more scared of this.”
Yet, leading liberal voices, such as Pravit, seem unable to grasp the troublesome issue of the kinds of hate campaigns outlined above. As Pravit suggests in his article The Grey Area of Freedom of Expression in Thailand protecting the freedom of speech of people to engage in this kind of threatening and intimidating hate campaign overrides the rights of the victims of such campaigns. This is decidedly ill-considered. No democracy on earth tolerates such threats to be repeatedly made – and let’s not forget that in the developing world allowing such campaigns to flourish can have potentially horrific consequences as the Rwandan genocide revealed.
There is little doubt now that Rwandan genocide of 1994 was partly inspired by the mass media radio broadcasts of Hutu fanatics. These radio broadcasts engaged in a months-long campaign of racially profiled denigration and hatred that made clear calls for violence and intimidation. The Tutsis – 800,000 died in the genocide – were singled out and compared to animals who should be slaughtered. Tutsi women were repeatedly referred to as sexual objects who should be raped and defiled. When some voices said these radio broadcasts should be shut down “liberals” demanded the right to freedom of speech be protected and that this right to call for slaughter, rape, murder and violence, in a Rwanda already on the edge of hostilities, be respected and revered. (The Media and the Rwandan Genocide, available online here, is essential reading – h/t @petitpor. Freakonomics.com in a posting called When Radio Kills also refer to a study which states that the Rwandan radio stations dramatically increased the violence in the areas they were broadcasting in.)
Students of Thai history will know of a similar and notorious case involving former-PM Samak Sundaravej. In 1976, as students held protests inside Bangkok’s Thammasat University, Samak, a presenter on an extreme rightwing Thai Army-owned radio station, exhorted and incited people to attack the students. The resulting massacre, when dozens of the students were murdered in the most brutal fashion, has gone down as one of the most shameful moments in Thailand’s post-war history.
This all raises a question Thai liberals can’t duck – who deserves more protection? Those using the media to threaten and incite violence or those being threatened? And, of course, in a country where media ownership is concentrated in the hands of the military and wealthy extreme rightwing fanatics, should such powerful people be able to intimidate and threaten ordinary members of the public as and when they choose? If liberals condemn governments for engaging in such hate campaigns why shouldn’t they take a stand against powerful private sector interests when they do the same? And, finally, should liberals and progressives, and those committed to establishing Thai democracy, be mounting campaigns to defend the rights of those who engage in such hate campaigns?
This for me isn’t a “censorship” issue. It’s about a 17-year-old women being allowed to freely express their views without being intimidated or threatened by large media companies. Claiming that creating legal protections for a young woman in those circumstances is “censorship” is, in my opinion, a grave intellectual deceit. Furthermore, it actually belittles and degrades any anticensorship campaign to the point where it is defending criminals attacking young, defenceless women.
It seems that some people are confusing “tolerance” – protected by law and which allows a genuine pluralism of voices to emerge – with the freedom to infringe the rights of others using the media as a vehicle to instill fear and incite violence. Making threatening hate campaigns that incite violence illegal under criminal law and stripping broadcast licences from mass media outlets that engage in it, from whichever political position, doesn’t mean censorship or intolerance. It actually leads to the protection of a space where a fully-formed debate can take place free of threat or intimidation. And yes, the limits of what can be catergorised as intimidation are fairly easy to decide upon in law – there are countless examples of this. The UK’s Broadcasting Code and the Press Complaints Commission’s code of practice are two examples of how to regulate against the kind of threatening, often racist, sometimes homophobic and certainly politically-tinged harassment that is prevalent in Thailand without losing the essential democratic rights to both freedoms of speech and expression. Sanctions in the UK include fines for newspapers and the withdrawal of broadcasting licences. Incitement to violence against individuals would most likely be considered criminal acts that would be dealt with by the courts – defamation and libel are purely dealt at a civil level.
A final thought – Thailand’s “liberals” are easily well-informed enough to be able to call for the kind of balanced value-driven regulatory media environment where the sorts of hate campaigns described here have no place. Being liberal, progressive and tolerant doesn’t mean allowing the powerful to intimidate the weak. It is precisely the opposite.
May 23, 2012
FACT is not a fan of the world’s biggest timewaster. We’re all about no censorship in a world which respects your privacy. In reality, Facebook begs the question in The Atlantic: “What’s the value of a billion people watching each other?” Here at FACT, we worry about Facebook’s impact on real relationships and its innate creation of surveillance. Of course, we should be aware such a “free” service is not really free; Facebook, like Google, is targeting your money.
FACT’s tech team set us up an automatic Twitter feed for postings during Thailand’s Great Youtube Blackout of 2006. The first 140 characters of each new FACT posting are sent to FACT’s current 650 subscribers along with a shortened URL to a permalink to FACT’s complete article if you wish to read further. Subscribe here: http://twitter.com/facthai.
Shortly thereafter, FACT made email subscriptions for every posting available to FACT readers. Freedom in your Inbox!
This week brought news that there are more Facebook users in Bangkok—9,294,140–than anywhere else on the planet. All Thailand has 14,035,780 Facebookers, 16th in the world. 21.14% of Thais use Facebook, however, that number includes the 80.27% who are connected to the Internet. That number doubled since 2011. Incidentally, these figures must be drastically underrated as they are only for Facebook users over 18. Do you know a teenager who’s not on Facebook.
Today, thanks to intrepid journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall, FACT is available to readers on Facebook, spreading Freedom far and wide.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is still the only hard-hitting, comprehensive news aggregator for censorship issues in Thailand and globally in English and Thai.
Freedom on Facebook: http://facebook.com/facthai. Do you “like” Freedom? Wanna be FACT’s friend?
NO CENSORSHIP! NO COMPROMISE!
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
April 28, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: This is the only way Thais appear to know how to fight, esp when they are wrong—the sucker punch. And Thai laws and Thai courts are set up to facilitate such spurious actions at great expence to taxpayers.]
New Stink Over Vegetable Scoop Which Made US Reporter Flee Thailand
Andrew Drummond: April 19, 2012
A newspaper story about how the director of Thailand’s ‘National Innovation Agency’ allegedly plagiarised his PhD thesis and an academic paper about organic asparagus production from other academics, has been given new life in the British‘Times Higher Educational’ this week.
In a story of intrigue, machiavellian legal cases, and journalistic ethics, Britain’s most prestigious higher education magazine, formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement is asking why nothing has been done.
The magazine, says that concerns continue to be raised into why Chulalongkorn University has failed to take any action against Supachai Lorlowhakarn, Director of the NIA, who has been accused of plagiarising both his PhD thesis and an NIA sponsored academic paper about organic asparagus production.
The whole story has a worse odour than the vegetable, the subject of the plagiarised academic studies, is said to give to human urine.
“Times Higher Education understands that an internal investigation by the university concluded in April 2010 that 80 per cent of Dr Lorlowhakarn’s thesis was plagiarised from several sources, including a United Nations technical assistance report and a field study in organic asparagus production commissioned by his agency.
“Dr Lorlowhakarn did not respond to requests by THE for comment.” said the article’s author Paul Jump.
“Chulalongkorn’s governing council is reported to have appointed another committee in January 2011 to consider whether Dr Lorlowhakarn’s PhD should be revoked, but the university has released no information on the subject and did not respond to THE enquiries.”
The original story was published in the ‘Bangkok Post’ but later the newspaper pulled the story from the web after a deal struck with Dr. Lorlowhakarn.
‘Dr’. Lorlowhakarn took out libel suits against Erika Fry, the American reporter who exposed the alleged plagiaristic acts in the ‘Bangkok Post’, and also the newspaper’s editor and the publisher.
Dr. Wyn Ellis, an agricultural consultant, the man who complained about his and his colleagues work being copied, received ten law suits alone, nine of which have either been withdrawn or dismissed, such as one brought by the National Innovation Agency itself. Wyn Ellis put academic integrity above Thai cultural sensitivities and in fact claimed he had warned Dr. Lorlowhakarn about against taking his intended actions.
Dr. Ellis claimed that since the controversy reared up he has had bricks thrown at his car smashing the rear windscreen, and received multiple visits from Immigration and tax authorities. Work of course is harder to come by, not because his reputation has been tarnished in any way but because he has become a hot potato.
Apirux Wanasathop, a former member of the National Innovation Agency board, said that Chulalongkorn must punish Dr Lorlowhakarn if it wanted to live up to its slogan of being “the pillar of the kingdom,” reported the Times Higher Educational Supplement.
“It’s a shame to the country, the Ministry and the University.”
Erika Fry left Thailand while on bail. She survived and is currently working as a journalist on the political campaign trail in the U.S.
But last year she reported in article headlined ‘Escape from Thailand’ in the Columbia Journalism Review that she did not believe the assurance of the editors of the Bangkok Post and gave the impression that they were hanging out herself and Ellis, the foreign journalist and foreign professor, to dry as a matter of Thai expediency.
Of the article itself she said:
“The evidence of all this, particularly the plagiarism, was beyond dispute, and the article had been vetted by lawyers and editors at the Post, the English-language newspaper for which I had worked since 2006.”
The Bangkok Post’s Pichai Chuensuksawadi writing in reply, emphatically denied her allegations but then astonishingly admitted that the Bangkok Post had asked Erika Fry to give evidence against her informant (Ellis) in a case Supachai was taking against him.
This is what Khun Pichai wrote:
“The plaintiff (Supachai) said the Bangkok Post editor Pattnapong Chantranontwong and Ms Fry were not his prime targets.
The plaintiff offered to drop the case against the editor and Ms Fry (after Ms Fry testified in court that her interview with Mr Ellis was correct) and if the Bangkok Post took the story off its on-line archive.
“The editor consulted Khun Ronnachai (Bangkok Post lawyer) who advised that the request to withdraw the article from the online archive had nothing to do with the case against the Bangkok Post. The online withdrawal request was a face-saving move since the Bangkok Post had made it clear that it would not retract its story and fight the case in court.
“A reporter being called by the defendant to testify as a witness against a plaintiff in defamation cases is normal. The defendant merely wants the reporter to reaffirm that the interview given by the plaintiff (Mr Ellis) is correct. It is not a confession of guilt or error. It is a reaffirmation that the interview was accurate and correct.
“Many newspapers and reporters are sued as plaintiffs so that defendants can use their testimony against other plaintiffs in the case.”
In fact betraying a source in any form is completely unethical and unacceptable in journalism outside Thailand, unless the source has deliberately lied, even if Pichai says it is normal within the country.
Moreover the Bangkok Post publishes under the slogan ‘The Newspaper You Can Trust’ and Wyn Ellis, who assisted the newspaper in its enquiry, should have been able to rely on its support.
Had Mr. Supachai wanted Erika Fry to give evidence stating the interview did take place, all he needed to do was take her evidence-in-chief in any case brought against her, or indeed brandish a copy of the Bangkok Post article and confirm it in court with Mr. Ellis.
Pichai has stated: ““Your reporters are most important. They’re the lifeblood of any newspaper no matter how high you go.”
The matter is controversial because Chulalongkorn University is one of Thailand’s top two universities. Many people look to its professors as a guide to the future of Thailand politically, economically, and academically. It’s Thailand’s Oxford.
Academics from all over the world, many of whom have associations with Chulalongkorn, will have read the article in the Times Higher Education.
The whole matter seems to have come down to a matter of saving face. Plagiarism is not hard to prove, especially when it’s alleged that 161 pages of 175 pages of a report are a direct copy from elsewhere, and the courts have at last been coming down on Ellis side even though questions remain as to why they accepted some of the complaints in the first place.
Thus under scrutiny are Thailand’s top university, the justice system, officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and of course the National Innovation Agency itself.
But worse may come. There are other allegations out there which could escalate the story radically if published. The powers that be at Chulalongkorn may be aware of this and as it involves other officials it may explain their silence.
NB: Declaration of interest. In cases ten years ago originally defended by myself and the Bangkok Post the newspaper subsequently left the me to defend myself in two libel actions brought by the owner of a Pattaya Commercial gay sex business and came to an arrangement with the plaintiff, who said the Bangkok Post or its editors were not the prime targets. The Post also printed grovelling apologies before I won both cases on appeal. I have subsequently posted comments under Erika’s article on the Columbia Journalism Review site.
April 6, 2012
Justice denied by mandatory minimum sentence
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has been calling for justice for Viktor Bout since his arrest in Bangkok in March 2008. We believe in fairness, justice and rule of law for everybody no matter who they are. For anyone to prejudge Bout on the basis of his reputation which, no doubt, has been contrived and embellished by the US govt, is to reject any notion of basic human rights or justice, equally applied to all.
The Viktor Bout case serves as the best example of American injustice we’ve seen recently.
The US DEA comes to Thailand to entrap Bout. Royal Thai Police allow the US to do this. Bout was arrested by foreign agents on Thai sovereign soil. By the D.E.A.?!? What drugs?!?
Entrapment is specifically illegal in the high-minded USA. But US agents have no such scruples when operating on foreign soil. In this case, a convicted criminal informer, Carlos Sagastume, was given nine million dollars by the USA, the highest amount ever given to a rat, to pose as an agent of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, to entrap Bout.
He was kidnapped by the USA and shanghaied into a Thai gaol cell to await extradition. After a year, his extradition was refused by the Thai courts as Bout committed no crime in Thailand and Thailand does not list FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as a terrorist organisation.
However, Bout was not freed: the USA appealed and, predictably, won. Bout was then renditioned by US DEA agents without any formal extradition documents filed in Thailand to a govt jet waiting on the tarmac at Don Muang. He was not permitted time to say goodbye to his wife or tell her what was happening or even collect his meagre prison possessions.
Thailand has a long and slavish, toadying history with the US. We always surrender our sovereignty to the Americans.
Federal prosecutors said the government initiated its investigation in 2007 because Bout “constituted a threat to the United States and to the international community based on his reported history of arming some of the world’s most violent and destabilizing dictators and regimes.”…”who pose the gravest risk to civilized societies.” That pretty much describes American foreign policy!
Viktor Bout got a 25-year sentence because the US govt sets mandatory minimum sentences for each criminal offence which judges are required to follow. Judge Sheindlin proved herself reasonable and fair-minded throughout Viktor Bout’s hearings.
“Scheindlin…argu[ed] that nothing in the record indicated that Bout was violent or linked to any terrorist organization.
“This is a businessman,” Scheindlin said, indicating Bout. “You might not like the business he’s in.” That business, the judge pointed out later, was “the arms business.”
“This country sells a lot of arms,” Scheindlin added.”
But, ultimately, America does not trust its judges, many of them highly educated, intelligent, sensible, calm and equanimous to make such decisions using their own discretion on the basis of the individual circumstances of each case.
In 2005, a case was tried with identical facts to Bout’s but not involving the DEA which resulted in a 3½ to 4 year sentence for a Macau citizen. But the judge’s hands in the Bout case were tied by mandatory minimums. The US govt sought a life sentence.
We applaud Judge Sheindlin, who came to the bench in 1994, for her courage and fairness. It should be of grave concern to the learned judge that her govt does not trust its judges any more than it trusts its citizens.
“But for the approach made through this determined sting operation, there is no reason to believe Bout would ever have committed the charged crimes,” she said.
Naturally, Bout’s lawyers intend to appeal within the limited period an appeal must be filed. However, it might be better strategy to immediately apply for prisoner transfer to Russia. In our observation, however, such transfers may take in administrative proceeding the full sentence if they are approved at all. It would seem that govts have written prisoner transfer treaties to give the appearance of fairness, not its substance. Despite treaty obligations, such transfer may be denied by either country without giving reason.
The USA thinks it caught a prize trophy. The Bout case was just one more to keep Americans in fear, trusting their govt to protect them from evils they don’t understand or want to. It is unlikely the US would let Viktor Bout go. They stuffed him, now they want to mount him on the wall.
Elegy for Viktor Bout, Lament for America
America tries to rule its world
with baits and lures and traps.
The kind where you
chew your own leg off.
America’s cannibal world is
shiny as a chrome bumper
wrapped in plastic for shipping.
America shows no respect
for the sovereignty
of other peoples and cultures.
It puts on its tin star,
swaggers into town and
bullies the locals into submission.
I know this
because it happened in my town:
of entrapment by foreign agents,
of kidnap and rendition,
while Thailand’s crooked smile
looked the other way.
America loves killing.
The world is its videogame.
Serial killer, mass murderer,
War is good for business.
So when a new boy on the block,
small as an ant,
came to the Empire’s notice,
America yawned, stretched,
scratched its round belly and
flicked the lever
to set its well-oiled machines
America says who can fight and why.
America tells you who to hate.
America owns the game.
America is the bank.
America doesn’t want any ants
spoiling its picnic.
Capitalists hate competition.
Who speaks for freedom?
Not America’s just-us.
Viktor Bout was sentenced
in Hollywood today.
And no one mentions
the real Merchant of Death,
the real Lord of War…
April 5, 2012
April 6, 2012
Russia Today: April 6, 2012
A US judge has sentenced Russian businessman Viktor Bout to 25 years behind bars – the mandatory minimum for such charges. His defense plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In addition to his prison term, Judge Scheindlin sentenced Bout to five years of supervised release. She also ordered him to forfeit US $15 million and immediately pay a US $400 special assessment fee.
The prosecutors had been calling for a life sentence for Bout. However, the judge said there was no proof he had been looking to deal with terrorist groups or kill Americans. She also said Bout had not been an active arms dealer since 2003.
The 25-year imprisonment that Viktor Bout has been sentenced to is in connection with the third count – the acquisition and use of anti-aircraft weapons.
Bout’s lawyers now have 14 calendar days to file an appeal. It may then take The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit about one year to review it. The attorney has also requested that the judge keeps Viktor Bout in the tri-state area. The judge recommended that the businessman would remain in general population and not in a solitary confinement.
Bout has told a judge at his New York sentencing on Thursday he is “not guilty” and the allegations against him are lies. Earlier, he called the trial “hypocritical” and an example of “double standards.”
At one point during sentencing, which lasted for over an hour, the prosecutor said that Viktor Bout had agreed to sell weapons to kill Americans, to which Bout shouted out, “It’s a lie!” He told the judge he “never intended to kill anyone” and said, “God knows this truth.”
Addressing the court for the first time and speaking through an interpreter, Bout said that he had never intended to kill anyone or sell arms to anyone and he said the truth was known to “those people” at which point he turned around and pointed at the DEA agents who had testified against him. That is according to RT correspondent Marina Portnaya, who attended the sentencing hearing.
Bout also added that the people who brought the allegations against him would have to raise their children knowing the truth. He turned around and pointed at the agents again and said, “Let God forgive you. You will have to answer to him not to me.”
At the same time, Bout said he was grateful to those who treated him with respect in the US, as well as to his lawyer, Albert Dayan.
Viktor Bout’s spouse, Alla Bout, said she expected this sentence and praised the judge.
“I expected the sentence, because I believe the judge is very intelligent, very professional. It’s an acknowledgement of the invalidity of the accusations made by the prosecutors. I think if the judge was not constrained by the law, she would have chosen to close the case,” she told journalists outside the court building.
On November 2, 2011, the former Soviet military officer was found guilty of all charges pressed against him. He was convicted of conspiracy to kill US nationals, including military officers and employees, conspiring to use anti-aircraft missiles and selling millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia is considered a terror group by the United States.
Bout’s Russian lawyer Viktor Borobin said that the US justice system portrayed the businessman as an enemy of the American people. “He is being viewed not as a man who went wrong and not even as a transporter but as a man who allegedly traded arms designed to kill Americans,” Burobin told Interfax news agency.
In an interview with Voice of Russia Bout described himself as “a trophy” for the US.
“I am like a hunted deer that they killed and now…want to take a picture like I’m some wild animal and now they caught me and they’re going to put me in their kitchen and show their kids and their grandkids and say, ‘Oh, we hunted that animal,’” he is quoted as saying.
Borobin earlier said that Bout’s conviction would not be the end of the case. However, verdicts handed down by jury are rarely canceled in the US. After all appeal procedures are followed, Russia could ask the US to extradite Bout so he could serve his sentence there, he added.
This courtroom sketch by Shirley Shepard shows Viktor Bout (in white) standing before Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin during his sentencing on April 5, 2012 in New York (AFP Photo)
US ‘manufactured the pulling of Bout into its jurisdiction’
US lawyer Douglas McNabb says America used every legal trick in the book to get its way in the Bout case.
“The US government takes a very aggressive approach extraterritorially,” he told RT. “If someone is in London and wire-transfers a sum of money to an individual in Berlin, unbeknownst to them the money pings through Citibank in New York. That pinging, that touching of US jurisdiction is sufficient for the United States government to charge both of those individuals with money-laundering. They are both facing extradition proceedings.”
When the American government decided they wanted Viktor Bout for whatever reason, McNabb went on to explain, they were able to “manufacture… the jurisdiction – not illegally.” With this form of entrapment, they were able “to pull Mr. Bout into the jurisdiction of the US court” and place him in extradition proceedings through Thailand’s legal system.
“They had him extradited to the United States and thus we see the outcome of the jury decision,” Douglas McNabb continued.
Alla Bout earlier told RT that nobody wanted her husband until the US authorities decided they did.
“It was a long period of eight years, from 2001 to 2008, and had there been any proof that he was really involved in some kind of illegal activities, the UN, Russia and Interpol would have certainly known about it and would have done something,” she said. “But in reality, nobody did anything – nobody was really looking for Viktor… He wasn’t hiding. He was openly living in Russia under his real name.”
Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 on an arrest warrant issued by the American government and was extradited to the US in November 2010.