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The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is threatening the Thai Enquirer with legal action following an article that outlined flawed methodology and practices in accusations made by PETA against the Thai coconut harvesting and exporting industry.
That article can be read here.
According to PETA, this article constitutes CRIMINAL DEFAMATION. By the Thai laws that are cited by PETA and their lawyers, prosecution and conviction of the case could result in JAIL TIME for the writers of the article in question.
So just to recap so far.
PETA is threatening jail time for an article written by journalists in Thailand.
Now, as journalists and media practitioners we do not write articles without giving a chance for the other side to respond. Before the article was published, we called PETA for a statement and were not given a response.
The cease and desist letter sent by the law firm to Thai Enquirer (as seen above) said that statements made within the original article were defamatory toward PETA.
At no point was there a rebuttal to the arguments presented by the Thai Enquirer. There was no attempt to engage with the content to say where our research was wrong or our reporters might be found wanting.
Before the publishing of this article, we emailed and called the law firm for a response and a chance to publish a rebuttal on our website. There was no response.
Given that there has been no communication, the Thai Enquirer feels that this letter is an example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation. The threatening of legal action to silence the free press is behavior that is normal in Thailand when large corporations break laws and wish to silence the whistleblowers. We did not expect it to come from an NGO.
As a reputable international organization, it is worrying that an NGO like PETA was engaging in legal action that can result in jail time for established journalists and silencing the free press.
Thai Enquirer stands by the reporting of our journalists. If PETA wishes to engage on content, we stand ready at any time to offer them a space. However, its choice to participate in legal action is regrettable and we stand ready to defend our own reputation.