By The Nation
Isra news agency on Friday released a brief statement calling for public donations to help support its reporter, who has fresh charges of trespassing on private property allegedly involved in former police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan’s asset examination.
Isra said the agency is just a small organisation run by Isra Institute and the Thai Press Development Foundation. Its work focuses on exposing corruption, especially among those in power, for the benefit of the public. However, it is concerned that the fresh charge against its reporter may take time and be costly. It is asking for donations to help fund the case.
The young reporter, Nattaporn Veeranant, was charged with trespassing at an apartment building in Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek area after being assigned by his editors to investigate the former police chief’s assets.
Prasong Lertratanawisute, director of the Isra Institute, had said Nattaporn had met with the apartment’s caretaker and asked for an interview and so was baffled why his reporter had been charged with entering the building without permission.
However, he said it was not clear if the charge represented an attempt to curb press freedom.
The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) also issued a statement demanding an end to infringements on press freedoms. The association said Nattaporn’s work followed journalistic standards and the police charge against him was deemed intimidation.
The association added that police should not attempt to curb media efforts to investigate people in power. The TJA demanded that police drop the charge, which it viewed as being weak, unjust and intended to serve people in power.
Last Wednesday, Patcharawat was acquitted in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, along with former premiers Somchai Wongsawat and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and former Metropolitan Police chief Pol Lt-General Suchart Muenkaew in regards to a police crackdown on yellow-shirt protesters in October 2008 that left two people dead.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission had previously indicated it was investigating other matters concerning Patcharawat, including alleged “unusual wealth”.
Those interested in providing support to the case can make a money transfer at the Siam Commercial Bank, Sri Yan, 073-222026-9.
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