Thailand seeks to block YouTube videos again

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BANGKOK, Sep 21 (Reuters) Thailand is seeking to block clips on video-sharing Web site YouTube that accuse the chief royal adviser of masterminding last year's bloodless coup, a top Justice Ministry official said today. The government, which lifted a five-month ban on YouTube in August after it agreed to block clips deemed offensive to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was seeking a court order to block two video clips posted recently on www.youtube.com.

''In the next couple of days, we will seek a court order to block those links deemed to cause public confusion and threaten national security,'' Yanaphon Youngyuen, head of the Justice Ministry's Internet crimes unit, told Reuters.

''While awaiting the court order, we are seeking cooperation from Internet service providers to block those links,'' he said.

The two-part postings, entitled ''The Crisis of Siam,'' and running 10:42 minutes and 6:06 minutes, accuse former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda of plotting the September 2006 coup, not the generals who took credit.

Such allegations against Prem, now Privy Council chief, have been made by supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during demonstrations and denied repeatedly by the generals and the government they appointed.

''Pa has been through such allegations many times and everyone knows what the truth is,'' Prem's spokesman, Vice Admiral Prajun Tampratheep, said of the 87-year-old former leader.

Last month, the Communications Ministry lifted a ban on YouTube after its owner, Google, installed filters to stop Thais from accessing clips deemed to insult 79-year-old King Bhumibol, a serious offence in Thailand.

YouTube said in May it had decided, after an agreement with the Thai government, to block some offending clips but took several months to implement it.

Thailand sent YouTube's management a list of 12 video clips it deemed offensive. Six of the clips were removed by their creators or because they violated YouTube's ''code of service'', YouTube said in a statement.

The first king-bashing clip appeared a few days after a 57-year-old Swiss man received a 10-year jail sentence for spraying graffiti on pictures of the King on his birthday in December - a rare conviction of a foreigner.

Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch who has been on the throne for more than 60 years, granted a pardon and the Swiss man was deported.

YouTube was not available for immediate comment on Thailand's latest attempt to block access to some of its clips.

REUTERS ARB RN1454

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