Editor ousted for criticizing Thailand's military government

Umesh Pandey, sacked editor-in-chief of Bangkok Post newspaper poses for a photo in front of the pictures of former editors of Bangkok Post newspaper in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Pandey has been sidelined because he refused to tone down coverage that bluntly criticized the country’s military government. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Umesh Pandey, sacked editor-in-chief of Bangkok Post newspaper poses for a photo in his former office in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Pandey has been sidelined because he refused to tone down coverage that bluntly criticized the country’s military government. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Umesh Pandey, sacked editor-in-chief of Bangkok Post newspaper poses for a photo outside office building in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Pandey has been sidelined because he refused to tone down coverage that bluntly criticized the country’s military government. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

BANGKOK — An editor at an English-language newspaper in Thailand said Tuesday he has been sidelined for refusing to tone down coverage critical of the country's military government.

Umesh Pandey said Tuesday that he lost his post as editor-in-chief of the Bangkok Post after a meeting with company executives where he was told that government officials had been pressuring them.

Pandey said he started working at the newspaper, one of two main English-language dailies in Bangkok, in 2006 and became editor-in-chief in 2016.

"I gave my staff a free hand, saying 'do as much as you can and I will protect you and I've been protecting them,'" Pandey said.

Pandey said he was still employed by the newspaper but has no active role.

Representatives of the Bangkok Post had no immediate comment.

Thai junta chief and Prime Minster Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Tuesday that did not know Pandey. Media organizations are responsible for looking after themselves, he said.

Since seizing power in 2014, government has postponed elections and amended laws to try to ensure it keeps power. It also has sought to stifle dissent and exert more control over mass media. In 2017, it proposed legislation that would have required journalists to be licensed that was staunchly opposed by Thai media organizations.

One editorial series Pandy produced was a "poll countdown" spotlighting skepticism over the junta's promises to hold elections and abide by their results.

Separately this month, the managing editor of a television broadcaster was fired and another television station was ordered to suspend broadcasting for 30 days, the second time this year it had been pulled off the air.

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