Thai lawyer drops defamation suit against BBC reporter

Phuket (Thailand) (AFP) – A Thai lawyer has dropped a criminal defamation suit against a BBC journalist over his investigation into foreigners being scammed out of retirement homes in the country, the broadcaster said Thursday.

Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, faced up to five years in jail after his report exposed how two foreign retirees had properties on Phuket island stolen from them by a network of criminals and corrupt officials.

Rights groups said the case highlighted how Thailand’s broad defamation and computer crime laws impede investigative journalism and make it difficult to uncover wrongdoing in an endemically corrupt country.

The lawyer who brought the suit — Pratuan Thanarak — decided to drop the charges against Head on the first day of the trial on Wednesday.

“The plaintiff has withdrawn his case against BBC journalist Jonathan Head,” the BBC said…

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