The Isranews Agency has defended one of its reporters who was slapped with trespassing charge by the police when he entered an apartment building purportedly belonging to a former national police chief who is currently being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Committee for being unusually rich.
The agency director and veteran investigative journalist Prasong Lertratanawisute said that the reporter, Mr Natthaporn Veeranan, was in the compound of the apartment in Soi Senanikhom 26 in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district to perform his duty as a reporter to investigate a case in which Pol Gen Patchawat Wongsuwan, a former national police chief, is being probed by the NACC.
Pol Gen Patcharawat is also a younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
Even though the apartment is a private property, Mr Prasong said that the hostel is open to the public with its gate flung open and everyone can walk in and out of the premise.
He insisted that the reporter did not encroach on the property in question and openly identified himself as a reporter to the apartment staff. The officials told the reporter to wait until the arrival of police from Phahonyothin police station and the reporter was arrested on trespassing charge.
The reporter maintained that he did not encroach on the apartment. He said he saw the apartment’s gate open and he just walked in, declared himself a reporter and asked for the keeper of the hostel in order to make some inquiries.
Mr Natthaporn denied the charged and asked for a bail. Bail was later granted after Mr Prasong posted 15,000 baht in cash as a surety.
Phahonyothin inquiry officers said they would decide on Sept 1 whether to proceed with the case to the prosecutor or not.
The Thai Journalists Association today (Aug 10) issued a statement, calling on the police to drop charges against the report. The TJA also condemned police’s action, saying that it was an attempt to obstruct journalists’ works.