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05BANGKOK5419 MORE CONCERNS ABOUT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AS RTG RADIO STATION, SUES LEADING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER

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“39017″,”8/23/2005 10:08″,”05BANGKOK5419″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

 

“05BANGKOK4723″,

 

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

 

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005419

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM, PROP, SOCI, KPAO, TH

SUBJECT: MORE CONCERNS ABOUT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AS RTG

RADIO STATION, SUES LEADING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER

 

REF: BANGKOK 04723

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Two recent moves by the RTG against media

operations critical of Prime Minister Thaksin\’s government

have renewed concerns within the human rights community that

the government is once again resorting to legal measures to

intimidate the country\’s press. After being warned twice,

and seeing its website shut down in June, community radio

station 92.25 was raided on August 9 and formally charged

with violating national broadcasting regulations. On August

15, RTG authorities filed a criminal libel lawsuit against

the Bangkok Post after the newspaper published a story on

August 9 (which it retracted one day later) alleging serious

structural problems at Bangkok\’s new airport. The

government\’s lawsuit, which seeks 1 billion baht in damages

and a series of apologies, will be heard in September. END

SUMMARY

 

2. (U) Controversial community radio station Khon Rak

Prachathipatai (People Who Love Democracy) FM 92.25 was

raided in the afternoon of August 9 by thirty officers from

the Royal Thai Police,s (RTP) Crime Suppression Division,

the Public Relations Department and the National

Telecommunications Commission. The station was charged with

(a) transmitting radio frequencies and possessing radio

transmitters without permission, (b) interfering with

mainstream airwaves and (c) a criminal charge of interfering

with aviation transmissions. The station was also verbally

accused of \”broadcasting false information\”, although the

authorities stopped short of charging the station with

slander. Officers also confiscated the station\’s transmitter

(effectively closing the station down) in a search that

lasted approximately two hours. Thai authorities also

confiscated the station ID cards of some members of staff,

who were told they would be arrested if they continued

broadcasting. A spokesman for the Thai Prime Minister\’s

office defended the government\’s actions, arguing the station

had already been warned about these violations in April and

June. The station insists they had already adjusted their

broadcasts to comply with the regulations.

 

WARNING SIGNS LAST JUNE

 

3. (SBU) 92.25 is no stranger to trouble. Its website was

briefly shut down on June 20. Embassy contacts believed the

station would cease being a target of government enmity after

the departure of controversial radio host Anchalee

Paireeraka. Ms. Anchalee, a prominent political activist and

fierce critic of the Thaksin administration, frequently

accused the government of corruption in her programs. She

quit on June 23, alleging that she had been followed and

physically threatened and was quitting \”to save (her) life.\”

In a July 2005 meeting, XXXXXXXXXX of XXXXXXXXXX

XXXX told Poloffs that Anchalee personally believed that she

was the government,s primary target and that the station

would be left alone after she quit.(Reftel A)

 

CRITICS RAISE CONSTITUTIONAL CONCERNS

 

4. (U) As of August 22, the station was not back on the air.

A Thai language statement on the station\’s website stated

that the Government\’s actions had violated the rights of the

people and may have violated the Thai Constitution. The

Association of Thai Radio and Television Journalists also

issued a statement on August 10 criticizing the raid, and

asserting that the government had \”come close\” to violating

the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of the

press. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a media expert at

XXXX University, told Poloff she was worried this

raid was marked the beginning of a government campaign to

close down all of the nation\’s 2000 community radio stations.

 

BANGKOK POST UNDER SUIT

 

5. (U) On August 15, government-affiliated Airport Authority

of Thailand and the New Bangkok International Airport filed a

criminal libel suit against the parent company of the Bangkok

Post, one of Thailand\’s two prominent English language

dailies. The legal action was in response to an August 9

front-page story reporting the existence of severe cracks on

the new airport\’s runways and that US experts had said it

would have to be re-built. The paper quickly admitted that

the source for the story had clearly been wrong, and printed

a retraction the next day, but the RTG was not assuaged. In

addition to criminal and civil damages, the plaintiffs are

demanding the defendants pay for a massive series of

advertisements in the international print and broadcast media

publicizing the trial\’s verdict. A Thai court accepted the

lawsuit for consideration and scheduled preliminary

examinations for September 19.

 

6. (U) In the meantime, the Bangkok Post has launched an

internal investigation into the matter, with results expected

to be announced this week. International press freedom groups

have roundly condemned the lawsuit, including the Southeast

Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), which released a statement

announcing that \”the government\’s course of action is to

harass the press. This…will have a chilling effect on press

freedom in Thailand.\” The English language \”Nation\”

newspaper has also been highly critical of the lawsuit

against its arch-rival, calling the government\’s action \”a

very rare and staggering legal move.\”

 

7. (SBU) COMMENT. The lawsuit against the Bangkok Post and

the closures of the radio station and the website on legal

technicalities appear to many here to be evidence of the

RTG\’s continuing resort to use the legal system to \”punish\”

media enterprises critical of the government. The raid on the

radio station, involving thirty law enforcement personnel,

appeared gratuitous. In light of these recent developments,

some editors, broadcasters and NGOs may be tempted to

self-censor themselves to avoid incurring the wrath of the

RTG. Though some in the government may claim \”victory\”, it

rings hollow- a cowed press is hardly in the country\’s best

interest. END COMMENT.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

June 22, 2011 at 4:31 am

Singapore Cable & Thai Press Self Censorship

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Even this Cable did not originate from the US Embassy in

Bangkok we decided to include a blog post about it.


From “The Age”, Australia, 12/10/2010

http://goo.gl/WH0Ji

Excerpt:

Top Singapore officials trash the neighbours

Philip Dorling and Nick McKenzie

December 12, 2010

MALAYSIA’S ”dangerous” decline is fuelled by incompetent politicians, Thailand is dogged by corruption

So say some of Singapore’s highest-ranking officials, according to leaked US State Department cables

that are likely to spark intense political controversy in the region.

The cables, leaked exclusively to The Sunday Age by WikiLeaks, detail the content of separate meetings

between senior US officials and Singapore’s foreign affairs chiefs Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and

Tommy Koh. The trio, who at the time of the 2008 and 2009 cables occupied some of the most senior

positions in Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, all give US officials damning assessments of Malaysia.

In his September 2008 meeting with Mr Sedney, Mr Kausikan savages Thailand’s political elite,

labelling Thaksin Shinawatra as ”corrupt” along with ”everyone else, including the opposition”.

Mr Kausikan is also critical of Thaksin’s relationship with the Thai crown prince, stating that Thaksin ”

made a mistake in pursuing a relationship with the crown prince by paying off the crown prince’s gambling

debts”.

 

”Kausikan said the crown prince was ‘very erratic, and easily subject to influence’,” the cable states, while

also saying that Mr Kausikan warned of continued instability in Thailand.

The same article was also mirrored in the  “The Sydney Morning Herald”, 12/10/2010

http://goo.gl/HQ7a5 and the “Singapore Straits Times”, 12/10/2010

http://goo.gl/1uoXe

 

The Nation reports about Singapore Cable but cuts out

important information

Source: The Nation http://goo.gl/Vjmds 12/12/2010

The gossiping Singaporeans : Wikileaks

By Asiaone online

Thaksin Shinawatra was “corrupt” along with “everyone

else, including the opposition.: former Singaporean permanent

secretary

WikiLeaks has released latest US State Department cables exclusively to Australia’s Fairfax

Media group that allegedly carry controversial comments by senior Singapore foreign

affairs officials on Malaysia, Thailand and other countries in the region.

Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age carried the content of the cables in their

Sunday editions, Asiaone online reported Sunday.

The cables reportedly detail separate meetings in 2008 and last year between senior

US officials and their Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) counterparts Peter Ho,

Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh.

Ho and Kausikan were both permanent secretaries at the MFA at the time, and the latter

still holds that position. Koh is the ministry’s ambassador-at-large.

Another cable dated November 2008, reporting the conversations of US diplomats with

their Australian counterparts, mentions former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar

Ibrahim’s sodomy case.

The cable reportedly says: “The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligence services and

Lee Kuan Yew have told Australia’s Office of National Assessments (ONA) in their exchanges

that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted’.”

The report adds that unnamed “Singaporeans” made the assessment on the basis of

“technical intelligence”, which is likely to relate to intercepted communications.

The Australian ONA is also recorded as saying its Singapore counterparts concurred with

its assessment that Mr Anwar’s sodomy charge “was a set-up job and he probably knew that,

but walked into it anyway”.

Koh allegedly described Japan as “the big fat loser” in the context of improving ties between

China and Asean.

He attributed the relative decline of Japan’s stature in the region to Japan’s “stupidity, bad

leadership, and lack of vision.”

He also allegedly did not spare India and was equally merciless towards them, describing

his “stupid Indian friends” as “half in, half out of Asean.”

Ho alleged assessment of Malaysia according to WikiLeaks as reported by the Australian

press stated that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been “throwing stones”

at his replacement, Abdullah Badawi.

“As for… Najib Razak, he is an opportunist. Although he has not been critical of Singapore,

he will not hesitate to go in that direction if it is expedient for him to do so.” the report

quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile Kausikan was also allegedly critical in his assessment of Singapore’s other

neighbour, Thailand reported the Australian press.

He had supposedly said that Thaksin Shinawatra was “corrupt” along with “everyone

else, including the opposition”.

He was also implicated in the cables for his assessments of Singapore’s neighbours

reported the Australian press.

He was allegedly quoted telling US Deputy Secretary of Defence for East Asia David

Sedney in 2008 that, “the situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous”,

fuelled by a “distinct possibility of racial conflict” that could see ethnic Chinese “flee”

Malaysia and “overwhelm” Singapore.

He supposedly also said: “A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,”

Kausikan said, citing the need for Najib Razak – now Malaysia’s Prime Minister – to “prevail

politically in order to avoid prosecution” in connection with a 2006 murder investigation

linked to one of Mr Najib’s aides.

The Australian press also mentioned that Kausikan had raised his worries about other

neighbouring countries and their state of affairs in his 2008 report.

He had supposedly said that Burma’s neighbours, including China and India, are “more

concerned with stability than justice” and they feared the Burmese junta’s demise could

produce “an Asian reprise of the breakup of Yugoslavia”.

Also that he would be “more comfortable with a nuclear-capable North Korea, than a

nuclear-capable Iran”.

The report also finally pointed out that he had apparently said that Russia’s economy is

“Third World”, its health system a shambles and its demographic challenges almost

insurmountable.

Article in “Bangkok Post” 12/12/2010

Source: http://goo.gl/5s5sv

Bangkok Post self censoring one sentence in their article

Bangkok Post pulled that article from their website

Only the Bangkok Lite Version still shows their original article

http://goo.gl/8IEhU



Leaks show Singaporean diplomats’ secret opinions

Singaporean diplomats think the leaders of some close Asian allies are corrupt,

incompetent or stupid, cables from Wikileaks revealed Sunday.

Highrise office buildings are seen in Singapore. Diplomats in the city state think

the leaders of some close Asian allies are corrupt, incompetent or stupid, cables

from Wikileaks have revealed.

Confidential diplomatic notes given by the whistleblower website to Australia’s

Fairfax media group contained unflattering assessments of key figures in Malaysia,

Thailand, India and Japan.

“A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,” permanent secretary

for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilahari Kausikan reportedly told US Deputy

Secretary of Defence for East Asia David Sedney in a cable dated September 2008.

As such, “the situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous,”

fuelled by a “distinct possibility of racial conflict” that could see ethnic Chinese

“flee” Malaysia and “overwhelm” Singapore, Bilahari was quoted as saying.

Another official, Peter Ho, reportedly described Malaysian Prime Minister Najib

Razak as “an opportunist” who “would not hesitate” to be critical of Singapore if

“it is expedient for him to do so.”

He said allegations linking Najib to the murder of a Mongolian woman in 2006,

which the leader has strongly rejected, would continue to “haunt” his political

fortunes.

Bilahari was also critical of the Thai government in 2008, labelling then premier

Thaksin Shinawatra as “corrupt” along with “everyone else, including the opposition.”

He also said the Thai crown prince was “very erratic, and easily subject to influence,”

and warned of continued instability in Thailand.

In another 2009 memo, Singapore’s ambassador at large Tommy Koh — known

for being mild-mannered and eloquent in public — was uncharacteristically blunt

in his assessment of Japan and India.

“Koh described Japan as ‘the big fat loser’ in the context of improving ties between

China and Asean,” a leaked cable detailing a meeting between him and US officials stated.

“He attributed the relative decline of Japan’s stature in the region to Japan’s ‘stupidity,

bad leadership, and lack of vision,’” it added.

“He was equally merciless towards India, describing his ‘stupid Indian friends’ as

‘half in, half out’ of Asean (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.)”

Further WikiLeaks revelations have shown that leaders in Singapore also believe

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had sex with a male aide in a honey

trap set by his enemies.

There was no immediate reaction from the Singapore government to the leaks but

the pro-goverA US state department cable dated November 2008 and given by the

whistleblower to Australia’s Fairfax media group detailed intelligence gathered

by Australian and Singaporean intelligence on the opposition leader’s case.

“The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligence services and (former prime

minister) Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA (Office of National Assessments) in their

exchanges that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which

he is currently indicted’,” the cable read.

It added that Singapore reached its conclusion based on “technical intelligence,”

which a Fairfax report said was likely to involve intercepted communications.

Written by thaicables

December 12, 2010 at 5:44 am

Newspaper Articles and Reactions to the first 2 Thai Cables

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Wikileaks alleged Russia bribed Bout witnesses

Article by “The Nation” from 2/12/2010

Source: http://goo.gl/u1cZv

US diplomats alleged that Russia bribed witnesses to block the

extradition of suspected international arms traffickers Viktor

Bout to the US, according to WikiLeaks cables as reported by

Guardian online.

Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout’s “Russian supporters” had paid witnesses

to give false testimony during his extradition hearing.

Dubbed the “merchant of death,” Bout was seized by the Thai authorities in March 2008 but only extradited to the

US on November 16 this year. The US accused him of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of weapons to

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels to kill Americans. The Kremlin strongly opposed his

extradition.

In a cable written on February 13, 2009, US diplomats said that in the year after Bout’s arrest, extradition proceedings

in Thailand were “going in the way we want” – albeit at a “painfully slow” pace.

More recently, however, the case had taken a worryingly wrong turn: “There have been disturbing indications that

Bout’s … and Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition,” the

diplomats reported.

Bout’s claim was that he had flown to Thailand on official government business. American agents posing as Farc

rebels arrested him in a sting operation in a Bangkok hotel after he allegedly agreed to sell them millions of dollars

of weapons.

Guardian online reported that On February 12, 2009, the US ambassador in Bangkok, Eric John, raised his concerns

about the case in a meeting with Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He warned that the extraditions proceedings had become “tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout’s associates to bribe

Thai officials”.

John said the Americans had uncovered several examples of influence and corruption. These included the false testimony

by a witness, an attempt to procure the personal secretary of the crown prince of Thailand to testify on Bout’s behalf, and “

evidence of bribery schemes gathered throughout the world”.

The online reported Abhisit gave a noncommittal response, promising to examine any irregularities. In August 2009,

the judge ruled Bout could not be extradited in a stunning setback to the US embassy and its “Bout team”.

The ruling – appealed against by the US – prompted John to write a cable urging US President Barack Obama to

telephone Abhisit and initiate “a serious discussion of our concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict”.

“We believe Potus [president of the US] involvement on Bout would have a significant effect here,” he pleaded.

The ambassador suggested a gambit to shame Moscow if Bout was freed to go back to Russia. “We should consider

asking the Russians to prosecute Bout if, in the end, he walks here in Thailand. At the very least perhaps we could

force the Russians to publicly refuse to do so.”

Other cables reveal that Bout’s fleet of aircraft – allegedly used to deliver arms to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo -

are currently rusting at an airstrip in the United Arab Emirates. On 7 January 2010, the US consulate reported

several of his Soviet cargo planes were stuck at the “sleepy” Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport.


Article from The Guardian 1/12/2010

WikiLeaks cables allege Russia bribed Viktor

Bout witnesses

Suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout
Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is flanked by Thai police. US diplomats
allege Russia bribed witnesses to block his extradition to the US, according to
WikiLeaks cables
Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features
Russia tried to block the extradition of the suspected international arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to America by bribing key witnesses, the US claims. Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout's "Russian  supporters" had paid witnesses to give false testimony during his extradition hearing. Dubbed the "merchant of death", Bout was seized by the Thai authorities in March 2008 but  only extradited to the US on 16 November this year. The US accuses him of conspiring to  sell millions of dollars of weapons to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels  to kill Americans. The Kremlin strongly opposed his extradition. The Russian businessman, accused of running arms-trafficking networks around the world,  maintains he is innocent in a case that turned into an undignified tug-of-war between  Washington and Moscow. In a cable written on 13 February 2009, US diplomats said that in the year after Bout's  arrest, extradition proceedings in Thailand were "going in the way we want" – albeit at a  "painfully slow" pace. More recently, however, the case had taken a worryingly wrong turn: "There have been  disturbing indications that Bout's ... and Russian supporters have been using money and  influence in an attempt to block extradition," the diplomats reported. Bout's claim was that he had flown to Thailand on official government business. American  agents posing as Farc rebels arrested him in a sting operation in a Bangkok hotel after  he allegedly agreed to sell them millions of dollars of weapons. On 12 February 2009, the US ambassador in Bangkok, Eric John, raised his concerns about  the case in a meeting with Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. He warned that  the extraditions proceedings had become "tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout's  associates to bribe Thai officials". John said the Americans had uncovered several examples of influence and corruption.  These included the false testimony by a witness, an attempt to procure the personal  secretary of the crown prince of Thailand to testify on Bout's behalf, and "evidence  of bribery schemes gathered throughout the world". Abhisit gave a noncommittal response, promising to examine any irregularities. In  August 2009, the judge ruled Bout could not be extradited in a stunning setback to  the US embassy and its "Bout team". The ruling – appealed against by the US – prompted John to write a cable urging US  President Barack Obama to telephone Abhisit and initiate "a serious discussion of our  concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict". "We believe Potus [president of the US] involvement on Bout would have a significant  effect here," he pleaded. The ambassador suggested a gambit to shame Moscow if Bout was freed to go back to  Russia. "We should consider asking the Russians to prosecute Bout if, in the end,  he walks here in Thailand. At the very least perhaps we could force the Russians  to publicly refuse to do so." Other cables reveal that Bout's fleet of aircraft – allegedly used to deliver  arms to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo – are currently rusting at an airstrip  in the United Arab Emirates. On 7 January 2010, the US consulate reported several  of his Soviet cargo planes were stuck at the "sleepy" Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport. "The airport is also working to distance itself from its reputation as a transport  facilitator for clients such as international arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who used  the RAK airport as a base of operations. The Wing Air aircraft once linked to Viktor  Bout are grounded and effectively abandoned," it said. Another cable chronicled the unstoppable rise in Russia's international arms sales –  up from $6.7bn (£4.3m) in 2006 to at least $8bn in 2007. It said Moscow exported large  quantities of weapons to, among others, Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and was prepared  to entertain the "grandiose regional visions" of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez. The then US ambassador in Moscow, William Burns, admitted that Russia was unwilling  to establish "an expert-level dialogue on arms sales" with Washington and was "deeply  cynical" about any US attempts to curb Russian arms exports. "Russia attaches importance to the volume of the arms export trade, to the diplomatic  doors that weapon sales open, to the ill-gotten gains that these sales reap for corrupt  senior officials and to the lever it provides the Russian government in stymieing  American interests." On this topic the US had few instruments of persuasion, Burns added: "Russian officialdom  and the public have little, if any, moral compunction about the arms trade, seeing it  instead as a welcome symbol of Russia's resurgent power and strength in the world."
Article from Scoop - Independent News 5/12/2010

Wikileaks: Russian Bribes "Infected" Bout's

Extradition Case

Sunday, 5 December 2010, 7:41 pm Article: Richard S. Ehrlich
Wikileaks: Russian Bribes "Infected" Bout's Extradition Case to U.S. By Richard S. Ehrlich BANGKOK, Thailand -- The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand warned that bribes, lies and a  plot to have two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested in Bangkok had  "infected" the extradition trial of alleged Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout to New  York, and the envoy suggested Thailand arrange testimony to correct the problems,  according to two U.S. cables released by Wikileaks. "There have been disturbing indications that Bout's xxxxxxxxxx and Russian supporters  have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition," said a cable  by U.S. Ambassador Eric John, with "x's" masking the identity of who the ambassador  suspected. "The most egregious example was the false testimony of xxxxxxxxxx that Bout was in  Thailand as part of government-to-government submarine deal," his cable said,  apparently indicating a different concealed name. "Bout's associates had been able to influence testimony given by xxxxxxxxxx,"  said the cable released by Wikileaks on Wednesday (December 1). Bangkok later extradited Mr. Bout on November 16 to New York where he is awaiting  trial for an alleged plot to kill Americans in Colombia with surface-to-air missiles  and other weapons, which he agreed in 2008 to sell to the two DEA agents who posed  as guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Mr. Bout pled not guilty in New York after Russia's foreign ministry denounced  Thailand for the "illegal extradition." Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva denied Moscow's complaint that Bangkok kneeled  to U.S. pressure, and said his decision to expel the Russian was correct. The U.S. cable, titled: "SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PM ABHISIT AND DEFENSE MINISTER  ON VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE," was flagged "SECRET BANGKOK 000385," dated February  13, 2009, and "Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John." Copies were sent to the U.S. State Department, the American Embassy in Moscow, the  U.S. Mission to the United Nations, DEA's headquarters in Washington, the U.S. Defense  Secretary, Department of Justice, Pacific Command in Hawaii, the CIA and National  Security Council. "Expressing growing concern about the extradition proceedings, the Ambassador then  described evidence showing that the extradition proceedings against Bout have become  tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout's associates to bribe Thai officials," the  cable said, without elaborating on how many Thais were involved or their role in the case. In a second cable, dated August 13, 2009, Ambassador John said there were  "significant indications that the Russians were trying to use bribes to influence the  outcome of the case." The first cable's use of the past tense verb -- "infected" -- made it appear that at  least one bribe may have already been paid by February 2009 when it said: "After listening to the evidence provided by the Ambassador suggesting that bribery  had infected the Bout proceedings, Abhisit committed to addressing any 'irregularities'  in the extradition case through the 'appropriate channels.' "At the conclusion of the meeting, the Prime Minister sought the identity of the  individuals involved in the bribery schemes, and the DOJ [U.S. Department of Justice]  Attache, who accompanied the Ambassador to the meeting, supplied an aide to the PM  with the requested information," the first cable said. "In particular, the Ambassador detailed...a scheme to arrest and thereby embarrass  two U.S. diplomats -- i.e., DEA agents assigned to the Bout investigation -- on  meritless charges of participating in illegal recordings of Bout on the day of his  arrest," the first cable said without elaborating. During their February 12, 2009 meeting, Ambassador John complained to Thailand's  prime minister that Bangkok failed to extradite an Iranian to America in 2008,  and warned against making the same mistake twice. "The Ambassador also reminded the PM of the recent case of Jamshid Ghassemi, in  which the Thai authorities denied a U.S. extradition request under apparent  pressure from Iran, and stressed the importance of avoiding a similar result here." Mr. Ghassemi is under indictment in San Diego, California, for alleged violations  of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and money laundering, relating to his  conspiracy to acquire accelerometers which could be used in missile navigation. The next day, Ambassador John met Thailand's defense minister. "During a February 13 introductory call, the Ambassador highlighted to Minister  of Defense Prawit Wongsuwan the importance the USG [U.S. government] places on  the Bout extradition proceedings," the first cable said. The submarine mentioned in the first cable referred to confusing statements  during Mr. Bout's trial when a Thai reportedly testified that he thought an  unidentified Russian would arrive in Bangkok to discuss a possible submarine  sale to Thailand -- but it was unclear if Mr. Bout was the Russian involved,  or if the deal even existed. Ambassador John also asked Thailand to arrange someone to testify at the  trial to correct the problems. "In particular, the Ambassador suggested that testimony from an authoritative  witness from the Royal Thai Navy or the Ministry of Defense should be offered  to repudiate the xxxxxxxxxx statement and make clear that the RTG [Royal Thai  government] supports the extradition request," the first cable said. Mr. Bout's lawyer denied his client was the unidentified Russian linked to  any submarine, and the topic disappeared from subsequent updates on the case. The last word of both cables is simply "JOHN" indicating Ambassador John  signed off on the wording, with some references to himself in third person. "When he (Ambassador John) came to meet me, he did not have any doubts or put  pressure," Prime Minister Abhisit said on Thursday (December 2), responding  to the release of the cable by Wikileaks. "He simply expressed concern over reports that 'influential people' may try  to interfere in the case. "I gave assurances to him that there will be no interference on the case,  and if the U.S. diplomat has any doubts, the Thai government will verify  the case for him," Mr. Abhisit said. In the August 13, 2009 cable, also released by Wikileaks on Wednesday  (December 1), Ambassador John revealed how the U.S. demand for Mr. Bout's  extradition was faltering. Expressing his desperation, the ambassador's second cable said the U.S.  State Department "should seriously consider asking Belgium, which issued an  arrest warrant for Bout in 2002 for money laundering and conspiracy; Colombia,  in the case of the FARC; and African countries which have suffered greatly  from Bout's arms trade in the past, to weigh in with the RTG (Royal Thai  government)," to strengthen the U.S. extradition request. "I can't comment on allegedly classified documents," U.S. Embassy Press  Attache Walter Braunohler said on Thursday (December 2) in response to  e-mailed questions about the cables. "We are committed to continued engagement with Thailand and with other  countries around the world. Our relationships are still guided by national  and mutual interests, and mutual respect. And to the extent that the trust  inherent in this engagement has been compromised, we will work as hard as  we can to rebuild this trust," Mr. Braunohler said. "Undoubtedly, the illegal extradition of Bout is a result of the unprecedented  political pressure on the Thai government and the judicial authorities by the  United States," a Russian foreign ministry statement said on November 16,  when Mr. Bout was suddenly bundled onto a plane in Bangkok for a secretive  extradition flight to New York. The Russian Embassy did not respond to e-mailed questions about the cables. ***** Richard S Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist who has reported news from  Asia since 1978. He is co-author of "Hello My Big Big Honey!", a non-fiction book  of investigative journalism. His web page is http://www.asia-correspondent.110mb.com (Copyright 2010 Richard S Ehrlich) Article from Bangkok Post 3/12/2010
Source: http://goo.gl/ezsNA

Foreign Ministry to clarify WikiLeaks memos

The Foreign Ministry's Department of Information has been assigned to explain a  secret US embassy memo sent to Washington, released by WikiLeaks, expressing  dissatisfaction and criticism of the Thai court's decision to initially refuse  the extradition of Viktor Bout last year. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the department will publicly clarify the  issue for the Thai public as well as the international community, and give  the accurate details. "We have to look thoroughly into the [leaked US] memo and clarify it point  by point," Mr Kasit said. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the leaked classified information  will not have much effect on Thailand. "We don't have any secrets," Mr Suthep said. "What happens in Thailand, we tell  the media and the people." Mr Suthep also said that this issue would not lead to problems between Thailand and  Russia. The government had followed legal procedure in the Viktor Bout extradition  case. Moscow had also demanded custody of the former Russian soldier and accused   weapons dealer. The leaked five-page US diplomatic memo posted on the web by Wikileaks contained a  summary, updates and analysis of the case, and steps planned by the embassy's "Bout  team" to help the US in its appeal against the Criminal Court's ruling, and the  embassy's suggestions about what Washington should do in the case. "We would encourage the Thai government to issue a public statement expressing d isappointment in the judges' decision, its intention to win on appeal, and a  reiteration of Thailand's commitment to both the struggle against international  terrorism and to its extensive law enforcement relationship with the United States,"  the memo said. It said the document came from US ambassador to Thailand Eric John on Aug 13, 2009 -   two days after the Criminal Court first refused the US request to extradite Bout. The memo made it clear that the ambassador had expressed his thoughts on the matter  to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at a meeting in Malaysia. Article from China Post 6/12/2010

Look at WikiLeaks’ Thailand impact

For the time being, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has survived the disclosure of confidential

cables from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The two

cables filed in February were related to the high-profile case of Viktor Bout, who was eventually

extradited to the U.S. last month.

The cables revealed how the U.S. former ambassador Eric John put forwarded the U.S. government’s

concern on Thailand’s judicial process over Bout and the way Abhisit responded. The Thai leader

answered the envoy’s enquiries with straightforward replies and expressed a full confidence in the

country’s administration of justice. The lengthy process was criticized by both the U.S. and Russia.

The latter thought Washington interfered and pressured Bangkok.

For the Thais, most interesting was how Abhisit responded to the U.S. diplomatic enquiries at a

critical moment. It also begs comparisons with other Thai leaders in a similar situation. Those who

are familiar with Abhist know that he would be able to respond with factual answers to any

enquiries with confidence and charm (some would say with a deadpan but nice face).

At coffee shops around Bangkok last week, questions were raised on what would be the scenario

if the same incident took place under other Thai prime ministers, say, Thaksin Shinawatra or

Samak Sundrajavej who have a penchant for loose talks.

Answers were unanimous — there would be lots of comments spurned from these leaders’ reactions

by the U.S. diplomats. “No problem” would be the quick and universal response from the Thais to

all diplomatic enquiries.

These cables harked back to the past when WikiLeaks was not in existence. Indeed, one of the

most quoted leaks within the top Thai policymakers came from former Prime Minister Banharn

Silapa-archa during his ASEAN chair at the fifth summit in 1995.

During the three-day summit, the Thai prime minister used “No problem” several times as

replies to enquiries as well as new initiatives proposed by his ASEAN colleagues during

the closed door discussions.

One of the AEAN leaders was smart enough in structuring his dialogues and presentations during

the discussion in such ways that Banharn’s replies would always be “No problem.” There could

have been more of such answers if the two interpreters, who remained anonymous, did not skip

them. In the Thai language, “No problem” does not mean much at all. It is an assurance that the

statements are heard but need follow-ups diligently. However, as a reply, when translated into

English, means “yes” and all obligations that derive from affirmative answers must fall through.

Of course, there are a lot more to come — 2939 cables left in all, not to mention additional ones

from the U.S. consular office in Chiangmai. They covered the most colorful period of Thai politics

and culture from September 2004 under Thaksin up until Feb. 26, 2010, with more from 1989 and

1998. The partial database released with the listing of dates of release plus expected generalized

topics were based on coded “tags” but without any titles or text yet. Apart from Thaksin, other

prime ministers in power including Samak Sundraravej, Somchai Wongsawat and General Surayudh

Julanonda would also be featured in these cables. Certainly, views and wide-ranging references to

taboo institutions and issues could be expected.

Luckily WikiLeaks only contacted the Western media which dwell on key issues affecting U.S.

foreign policy and global politics. That was the key reason the cables linked to Bout were disclosed

in the first place as it depicted the tension of U.S.-Russia relations over his extradition.

However, the revelations made on the Western and Middle Eastern leaders have already increased

blood pressure among the Asian leaders. One must concur that the amount of cables generated by

the U.S. embassy on Thailand demonstrated the great American interest in the country. Compared

with other countries in the Asia-Pacific, Thailand ranked sixth after Japan (5697), Taipei (3456),

China (3297), Indonesia (3059). Other two ASEAN members, Vietnam and Burma, were ranked

2325 and 1864 respectively.

At this juncture, two issues must be discerned, who have access to the leaked cables and the timing

of release. Those who read them could easily stir up hornet nests in the country on every issue and

aspect. For instance, a Western journalist, who knows Thai politics and sensitivities very well, can

literally cause havoc over here by zeroing on specific references at any point during the past five and

half years. Even just one word of description of a particular person could have a great ramification

in the land of gossips and whispers.

The timing of release of next cables and subject matters can certainly add fuel to the fire concerning

domestic politics and institutions. The concerned authorities must be prepared for any fallout by acting

rationally not hysterically as in previous cases of unexpected revelations. Abhisit must consider himself

extremely lucky as his opponents so far were unable to capitalize on the leaks by attacking him. His

comments on Bout portrayed him in a good light because they showed consistency — no difference from

his published statements in the media during the trial. However, there is no guarantee that would be

the case in weeks and months to come. Nobody knows the entire contents of what the American

envoys put in black and white about him and his country.

For the time being, the Thai media and curious watchers of Thai politics would have to wait until

WikiLeaks placed all cables on its websites and unless some explosive comments on private individual

in Thailand are made public.

Source: http://goo.gl/jhv5S

 

Article by Elitestv.com of 6/12/2010

Source: http://goo.gl/H89Di

 

Wikileaks and Thailand

By Global Voices Online • on December 6, 2010

By Mong Palatino

What are specific Wikileaks revelations on Thailand? The most interesting so far cites the

case of Russian businessman and alleges arms smuggler Viktor Bout who faced trial in Thailand

before being extradited to the United States this year. Documents from the Wikileaks revealed

the concern of the U.S. about the attempt of Bout’s associates to bribe local Thai officials.

Below is a sample dispatch from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, uploaded by Wikileaks

Lately, however, there have been disturbing indications that Bout’s xxxxxxxxxx and

Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block

extradition. The most egregious example was the false testimony of xxxxxxxxxx

that Bout was in Thailand as part of government-to-government submarine deal. Thus,

we felt it was time to once again raise the matter at the top of the government and make

clear that, while we understand the judicial process must take its course without political

interference, we insist that the process be free of corruption and undue influence. We

will continue to do so in the months ahead.

Citing news reports, Bangkok Pundit summarized the total number of secret cables referring

to Thailand

…there are 2,941 cables from the US Embassy in Bangkok and another 278 from the

Consulate in Chiang Mai – slightly higher figures are also quoted elsewhere. You will

also have cables from the State Department about Thailand. There could be some

information in the cables that would be very embarrassing and revealing particularly

on reports by US Embassy staff after meetings with senior Thai officials and members

of the elite.

Worried that Wikileaks would be permanently inaccessible in Thailand, the website Thai Cables

was established to continue providing relevant information about Wikileaks documents

We do not believe in censorship and think that everyone in Thailand should get access

to any information available on the internet, which also includes Wikileaks. This is the

reason for this blog.

How many cables about Thailand are expected to be published by Wikileaks

A total of 2985 (other sources state 3516) Cables sent from the US Embassy in Bangkok

will be published. While between 1989 and end of 2004 only 7 Cables will be leaked, the

number increases 2005 immensely. Until end of February 2010 an average of approx. 580

Cables are sent a year which means 1 to 2 Cables a day.

They cover a wide range of topics from Arms Controls and Disarment to Refugees and

Human Rights Issues, Democratization, Human Trafficking, Nuclear Issues, Terrorism

and Military Operations, Foreign Trade, Internal Government Affairs, Relations between

Saudi Arabia and Thailand, Foreign Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and even

Thai Prime Minister and Thai Rak Thai. Even Cables talking about War Crimes, Thai

Elections, Intelligence, Corruption, Political Parties will be published.

Musings from Thailand published the statement of outoging American Ambassador Eric John

about Wikileaks

I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any one of these documents. But I can say that the

United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be

confidential. And we condemn it. Diplomats must engage in frank discussions with

their colleagues, and they must be assured that these discussions will remain private.

 

Written by thaicables

December 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm

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