Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Thailand bans Economist magazine

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej inspects an honuor guard, 12/08
Thailand's laws protect King Bhumibol from criticism

The latest edition of UK-based current affairs magazine the Economist has been banned in Thailand, amid local anger over its coverage of the royal family.

The Economist's Thai distributor held back Friday's issue - which contains an article about an Australian writer who was jailed for slandering the monarchy.

Last month another edition was banned because of an article questioning the Thai king's role in public life.

Thailand's laws against lese-majeste are among the strictest in the world.

The Economist sent an e-mail to its Asia subscribers stating: "This week our distributors in Thailand have decided not to deliver the Economist in light of our coverage relating to the Thai monarchy."

The edition contains an article about Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, who was sentenced to three years in a Thai jail for insulting the monarchy.

Nicolaides wrote a novel four years ago, which contained a brief passage referring to an unnamed crown prince. It sold just seven copies.

He admitted the charge of insulting the royal family, but said he was unaware he was committing an offence.

Official crackdown

Nicolaides is just one of a growing number of people being investigated and charged under Thailand's lese-majeste law, as the police and army try to suppress what they fear is a rising tide of anti-monarchy sentiment.

And the newly-installed Democrat Party government has said that protecting the royal family is a top priority.

More than 3,000 websites have now been blocked, and one political activist was jailed for six years in November for an anti-monarchy speech she made just a stone's throw from the old royal palace last July.

Several other people are now awaiting trial.

The Economist itself has fallen foul of the lese-majeste law in the past.

In 2002 an edition of the magazine containing a survey about Thailand was also banned.

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