Photo: Kris Janssens / Facebook
Photo: Kris Janssens / Facebook

BANGKOK — A Belgian journalist was briefly detained while he was preparing to interview  a prominent Redshirt activist, a media organization said Friday.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand said Kris Janssens, a Belgian freelance reporter, was taken into custody for over four hours by the immigration police on Thursday morning when he was about to interview Anurak “Ford” Jeantawanich, who has been assaulted several times this year.

“It is deeply disturbing when authorities anywhere try to dictate who foreign journalists should or should not interview,” the statement said. “The Thai government should continue to allow foreign journalists to report on political issues here without facing threats of unspecified legal action.”

According to the statement, the Phnom Penh-based journalist was escorted from his hotel to the immigration bureau headquarters on Thursday morning. During his questioning, he was advised by officials not to continue his plan to interview Anurak and told to leave the country immediately.

Immigration police declined to comment on the news. National police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said he is investigating the matter.

Although Kris was eventually released without any charges, he was threatened not to tell Anurak about his detention or report on Thai politics, Anurak said on his public Facebook post.

“The Special Branch Police called me about Kris two days ago. I believe the bureau knows exactly which unit detained him and attempted to conceal it with intimidation,” Anurak said, referring to the police intelligence unit.

Kris, who described himself as a “freelance media producer … with a strong focus on human rights and environmental issues” in his website, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

In May, Anurak was beaten by six men in front of his home in Samut Prakan. Two months earlier, two men also broke into his home and assaulted him with wooden sticks. No one has been arrested in both cases.

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