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Thai police criticized for posing as journalists

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Photo - A protester, center, is arrested by plainclothes Thai police officers after staging an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. An anti-coup activist in Thailand called Friday for a weekend rally to defy the military government's ban on demonstrations, urging those opposed to the takeover to wear masks and be ready for cat-and-mouse chases with soldiers in the capital. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
A protester, center, is arrested by plainclothes Thai police officers after staging an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. An anti-coup activist in Thailand called Friday for a weekend rally to defy the military government's ban on demonstrations, urging those opposed to the takeover to wear masks and be ready for cat-and-mouse chases with soldiers in the capital. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
News,World,Thailand

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's main press association said Monday it is gravely concerned that undercover police appear to be posing as journalists after a video circulated showing a man with official press ID arresting an anti-coup protester in the capital.

It was one of two videos showing apparent arrests by undercover officers Sunday in Bangkok that sparked outrage on social media. The other shows two men pushing a woman at a peaceful protest into a moving taxi.

Police did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

Thailand's ruling military junta has launched a major campaign to suppress dissent since staging a coup on May 22. On Sunday, authorities said about 5,700 soldiers and police were deployed around Bangkok to stop planned anti-coup demonstrations.

On the sidelines of one of the protests, several plainclothes men escorted a woman to a motorcycle as she frantically called for help and asked them, "What right do you have to arrest me?" according to a video posted on the website of the Thai newspaper Matichon.

One of the men is wearing a black badge around his neck that says "PRESS" along with a green cloth that looks like an arm band issued to reporters by the Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association. The woman is told, "Get on the bike," as the man leads her to a waiting motorcycle and drives off with her.

The Thai Journalists Association said it was "gravely concerned" by the tactic. Association spokesman Manop Thip-osod called on police to "revise their strategy of sending plainclothes police officers pretending to be journalists to arrest protesters or to seek intelligence in the protest area."

He said the tactic would have an "immense impact" on both the safety and credibility of the media in Thailand.

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