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Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor-in-chief of Same Sky Books (Fah Diew Kan), a publication known for covering sensitive Thai political issues, was arrested Wednesday afternoon under charges of violating the Computer Crimes Act and sharing classified information that could affect national security. He was later released early Thursday morning.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at approximately 4:15pm, Thai authorities presented an arrest warrant for Thanapol at Sky Books’s office. At about 4:30pm, Thanapol was taken into custody without a lawyer present by police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD).
Hours later, Move Forward Party MP, Rangsiman Rome, rushed to the TCSD headquarters where Thanapol was being held to assist in the release.
“Good news,” Rome wrote on Twitter. “I was informed by the officers, that Mr. Thanapol Ewsakul will be released on bail on the investigative level. Using my position as MP as collateral, the attorney has now filed [bail]. Documentation in progress tonight, Khun Thanapol will return home.”
Same Sky Books has come under relentless legal fire since 2014. Not long after the 2014 coup, the publisher was ordered to delete a Facebook status which discussed the junta’s attempt to censor the media. The next year, the publication was visited by the military and questioned on their political views.
More recently in January, authorities raided the publisher’s office and seized the editor’s computer and mobile phone.
Across Southeast Asia, media freedom has come increasingly under fire, according to human rights groups.
Across the border in Myanmar, the junta has arrested numerous journalists, including American citizen Danny Fenster late last year. After significant pressure, Fenster was later released in mid November.
Philippines President Duterte ordered the shutdown of Rappler on Wednesday, a local Filipino news group known for its hard hitting investigative reporting. Philippines observers say the decision was the deliberate last move before Duterte leaves office.
Finally at around 9:40pm, Thanapol was released on bail under the condition he must report every 15 days to the police.