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Leader of Thai junta threatens to 'execute' journalists who 'do not tell the truth'

Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a stark warning to reporters who prove problematic for the Government

Heather Saul
Wednesday 25 March 2015 14:51 GMT
60-year-old General Prayuth Chan-ocha was the only candidate in the election
60-year-old General Prayuth Chan-ocha was the only candidate in the election (EPA)

The leader of the Thai junta has threatened to execute journalists who “do not tell the truth” in shocking comments aimed at Thailand’s media.

Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters, "we'll probably just execute them," when he was asked how the Government would deal with journalists and media outlets that did not adhere to the official line, according to Reuters.

The news agency claims he made the menacing remarks on Wednesday without “a trace of a smile”.

"You don't have to support the government, but you should report the truth," he added. Instead, he urged journalists to write in a way that encourages national reconciliation in the deeply divided nation.

Prayuth leads the National Council for Peace and Order which deposed the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May following months of protests.

Yingluck was recently impeached by Thai legislators for her role in overseeing a controversial government rice subsidy programme that lost billions of dollars.

The coup saw Thailand placed under martial law, giving the army full control over citizens, the way the country is run and providing the junta with sweepings powers over arrest and detention.

Prayuth has lead a crack-down on dissenters and claims Thailand is still not ready for martial law to be lifted.

In January, the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom. Prayuth was particularly critical of the Thai-language Matichon daily newspaper, accusing the paper of siding with ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies.

"Don't think I don't know that your writing is pro the previous administration," He was quoted as telling a Matichon reporter. "The previous Interior Ministry bought many advertising spaces from you."

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