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Thai junta steps up internet censorship drive

Democracy campaigners claim tough new powers are 'ripe for abuse'

BANGKOK -- After being finger printed and charged with sedition by Thailand's Police Technology Crime Suppression Division in early August, Pravit Rojanaphruk, a Thai journalist, stepped out of its Orwellian confines to make a dramatic point about censorship under military rule. He extended his arms and opened his ink-stained fingers for waiting photographers to snap. "This is the first time I was made to look like a criminal," he said.

Pravit was back with the police cyber sleuths on Aug. 18 to hear more charges stemming from a clutch of political comments, critical of the junta, posted on his Facebook page, which has 24,500 followers. But the 49-year-old columnist is defiant, despite the threat of a 14-year jail term for violating Article 116 of Thailand's criminal code, which covers sedition. "This is the price I have to pay for criticizing the junta," he said.

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