An anti-junta journalist who fled the country to the US shortly after the 2014 coup d’état has been granted official refugee status.
On 13 July 2017, Jom Petchpradab, a veteran journalist now living in self-exile in the US, posted on his Facebook account that he has been granted official refugee status from the US government.
“Official refugee status encourages me even more in my media work for democracy and for the voices of the Thai people. Thank you sincerely once again for all the encouragement,” reads part of his Facebook post.
He said that refugee status is not the same as being granted a ‘Green Card’ in the US. However, most public benefits provided for officially recognised refugees are similar to those holding Green Cards.
Jom is a former TV journalist and programme host. After the coup in 2006, he caused an uproar among pro-establishment Thais when he flew to Hong Kong to interview controversial former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Screening of the interview was cancelled. In 2009, after a successful live interview with Thaksin, he was pressured into resigning from hosting his programme.
In 2014, after he was summoned by the junta, he fled Thailand to live in the US where he founded Thaivoicemedia.com, a web-based Thai media outlet in exile. The website is blocked by the government.
Recently in April 2017, his YouTube channel ‘Jom Voice’ was also blocked by the Thai government.
Jom Petpradab (Photo from Jom's Facebook)