Thailand investigates BBC over King Maha Vajiralongkorn profile

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attends an event commemorating the death of his father, at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok, Thailand, 23 October 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The monarchy is accorded enormous respect in Thailand

The BBC could be prosecuted in Thailand if a profile it published of the new king is found in breach of lese majeste laws, the prime minister has said.

"As they have an office in Thailand and Thai reporters work there they must be prosecuted when they violate Thai law," Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.

The BBC Thai-language website published the article last week after King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne.

The BBC has yet to be told if formal charges have been laid against it.

"BBC Thai was established to bring impartial, independent and accurate news to a country where the media faces restrictions, and we are confident that this article adheres to the BBC's editorial principles," a BBC spokesperson said.

Police have visited the BBC's Bangkok office as part of their investigation. It began after complaints about the article - which was published in the UK and has since been blocked online in Thailand - by royalists who accuse the BBC of defaming the king.

Profile: Thailand's new king

Thai crown prince proclaimed new king

Thailand's lese majeste laws explained

At the weekend, an opponent of Thailand's military-backed government was arrested after sharing the profile on his Facebook page.

He is thought to be the first person charged with defaming the monarchy since the new king succeeded his father.

Human rights groups accuse the military-backed government of using the royal defamation law as a way of cracking down on opponents.

King Vajiralongkorn's father, the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died on 13 October at the age of 88 after seven decades on the throne.

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