WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. says it hopes that Thailand's leader, who took power in a military coup last year, wasn't serious when he made a threat to execute journalists.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (prah-YOOT chahn oh-CHAH) made the apparently sarcastic comment to reporters in Bangkok Wednesday. He said that any media that cause "division" should be punished. He singled out several reporters and publications for insults.
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday that the U.S. was troubled by Prayuth's threat to journalists who do not report the "truth." He said such statements, even if not serious, contribute to an atmosphere in which freedoms could be suppressed.
The coup and the Thai junta's crackdown on dissent has strained traditionally strong ties with the U.S. Washington has suspended $4.7 million in military aid.