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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 23:24 GMT 00:24 UK
Thailand blocks access to YouTube

Man watching YouTube
The site will be banned until the movie is removed
The Thai government has banned access to the YouTube video-uploading website after it broadcast material critical of the country's king.

Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said the site was banned after a 44-second film showing graffiti over the king's face was aired.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 79, is revered and it is forbidden to insult him.

The minister said a ban came after the Thai government asked YouTube's owner Google to remove it and they declined.

The contentious film also shows feet being placed over the king's face - an offensive act to Thais, who consider feet dirty.

YouTube 'disappointed'

"It's a serious case of lese majeste," said Mr Sitthichai, referring to crimes of offending the country's monarchy. "We asked Google to remove it some days ago, but they refused to."

The minister said access within Thailand would be reinstated once the film had been removed.

YouTube's head of global communications, Julie Supan, said: "We are disappointed that YouTube has been blocked in Thailand, and we are currently looking into the matter.

"The internet is an international phenomenon and while technology can bring great opportunity and access to information globally, it can also present new and unique cultural challenges."

The profile of the YouTube user who uploaded the movie onto the site lists the US as his location.

The ban follows the jailing for 10 years of a Swiss man after he pleaded guilty to charges of insulting the Thai king.

Oliver Jufer, 57, was arrested last December after drunkenly spray-painting posters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

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