What kind of “liberal” defends the intimidation of young women?

Andrew Spooner

Prachatai: June 2, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3242

 

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.

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!

9,294,140 Facebook friends + FACT

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!

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

[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

http://www.andrew-drummond.com/view-story-other.php?sid=537&fb_source=message

 

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.


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.

April 6, 2012

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

or interest

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:

Bangkok,

this travesty

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 criminal.

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

into motion.

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…

America.

CJ Hinke

Bangkok

April 5, 2012

Russia Today: April 6, 2012

http://rt.com/news/viktor-bout-sentence-usa-301/

 

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.

 

 
     

[FACT comments: Gotta say we love Vice (both kinds!), a free mag which started in Canada. They do cutting edge stuff. Couldn’t find the URL for this show, though. Grow a skin, eh!]

Ministerial action over TV comment urged

Janjira Jarusupawat

The Nation: March 27, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Ministerial-action-over-TV-comment-urged-30178865.html

 

Gay rights defender Nathee Theerarojanapong yesterday urged Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome to act against writer/TV host Lakkhana “Kham Phaka” Panwichai whose television show claimed Thailand was the world’s brothel.

Nathee submitted the letter to Sukumol yesterday morning calling for legal action against Lakkhana through the Chiang Mai Cultural Office at the City Hall Complex. A copy was also sent to Chiang Mai Governor Panadda Disakul, and a complaint filed against Lakkhana at the Chang Pheuk police station.

Nathee claimed that Lakkhana’s Kid len hen tang kub kham phaka (Think differently, play differently with kham phaka) television programme on Vice TV channel had shown the damaging message “Thailand is the world’s brothel” several times during midMarch.

Nathee’s Chiang Mai Ariya Group and allies want Sukumol to proceed with legal action against Lakkhana, saying the comment was an insult to Thais and similar remarks should be prevented in the future.

http://femen.org/

http://femen.livejournal.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Femen.UA

http://femenshop.com/

http://twitter.com/FEMEN_Movement

https://plus.google.com/109212741590298158848/posts

http://vimeo.com/user4967407

http://vkontakte.ru/club2672464

[FACT comments: And if she were Israeli, would she have been arrested, too?]

Palestinian woman held for alleged Facebook insult

Associated Press: April 2, 2012

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4211412,00.html

Rights activists say a Palestinian university lecturer has been detained on accusations that her Facebook page insulted President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hadeel Hneiti of the al-Haq rights group said Monday that Palestinian security forces arrested Ismat Abdul-Khaleq after they found writing on her Facebook page accusing Abbas of being a traitor and demanding he resign. Hneiti said the 37-year-old Abdul-Khaleq was taken into custody Wednesday.

กลุ่มเสรีภาพต่อต้านการเซ็นเซอร์แห่งประเทศไทย


Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is pleased to offer FreedomServer. FreedomServer is a free, cross-platform, open source, custom Web proxy created for FACT by the Psiphon of the SecDev Group in Ottawa, Canada.

FACT’s FreedomServer Web-based proxy will only be made available to FACT petition signers. Please email us to sign FACT’s petition as well as your location and affiliation. Real names only, please.

We will sign your name to FACT’s petition against all censorship let you know how to create your free account, details sent to your email address. If you have already signed FACT’s petition, just write to remind us.

Proxies are expressly legal in Thailand and form a cornerstone to international commerce. However, should FACT’s FreedomServer Psiphon node ever become blocked or compromised, your account will enable you a seamless and transparent transition to a new node. You can forget about censorship!

FreedomServer enables netizens to ignore government censorship. FreedomServer securely bypasses Web-blocking and Internet content-filtering. Your Internet stays anonymous.

Psiphon was written by Nart Villaneuve of Secdev.Cyber and Michelle Levesque of Google as a project of the OpenNet Initiative of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, funded by the Open Society Institute. Psiphon was developed as a project of Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada.

Psiphon’s supporters include the European Union, the US Department of State, British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Radio Farda.

Although Thailand suffers data retention regulations, along with the United Kingdom, the European Union and other countries, access to FreedomServer uses the same 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption used by banks.

FACT apologises for any inadvertent cross-posting. If you are receiving more than one of FACT’s emails, please let us know so we may remove your duplicate address. Thanks!

Psiphon 3 (in English) is a software-based VPN for Windows only so far you might like to test. Psiphon 3 in Thai, too.

Please feel free to circulate this information to your friends, family, students, colleagues, faculty, group and contact list.

NO CENSORSHIP! NO COMPROMISE!

Now you can live it…

Just say know!

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