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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 11:39 GMT
Thai coup leaders target Thaksin

Thaksin Shinawatra - archive picture
Mr Thaksin remains an influential figure
Thailand's post-coup leaders have revoked the diplomatic passport of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra and told local media not to report his comments.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the passport had been revoked "because of the changing security situation."

The ruling military council gave a similar reason as it told Thai media to stop reporting his lawyer's statements.

It is the first attempt at media censorship since the immediate aftermath of the September coup.

The military is eager to shore up its grip on power after a series of bomb blasts rocked the capital, Bangkok, on New Year's Eve.

The military-installed government has accused factions loyal to Mr Thaksin of being behind the blasts - a charge which the former premier, through his lawyer Noppadol Patama, has denied.

Travel ban

Since being ousted, Mr Thaksin has been barred from returning to Thailand.

He has spent his time travelling around the world - which he will still be able to do without a diplomatic passport, as he will carry an ordinary Thai passport.

Since the coup he has been sighted in various locations, including London, Hong Kong, Beijing and Bali.

But throughout this period of exile he has continued to state his case against the coup through his lawyer.

Now it appears that the Thai media has been asked not to report Mr Noppadol's comments.

One of the earliest promises made by the military generals when they took over the country was that they would quickly lift the censorship of the media imposed in the hours after the coup.

For the most part they kept that promise, according to the BBC's correspondent in Bangkok, Jonathan Head.

Since being told they can no longer report comments from Mr Noppadol, the Thai media have been holding crisis meetings to decide how they should respond.

It is not clear what will happen if they defy the military council, nor is it clear why the generals felt they had to impose the ban now.

Coming at a time when confidence in the interim government has slumped, this measure is bound to cause further alarm, both inside Thailand and abroad, our correspondent says.




SEE ALSO
Thai bombs raise political stakes
08 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Hunt for clues after Bangkok blasts
01 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Bangkok on alert after bombings
02 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Bangkok blasts leave three dead
01 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Thailand
02 Oct 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Thailand
03 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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