World

Trial opens for Australian, Thai journalists charged with defaming Thailand's navy

  • Alan Morison, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan, sits at his desk ahead of his appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)

    Alan Morison, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan, sits at his desk ahead of his appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)  (The Associated Press)

  • Alan Morison, right, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan and his colleague Chutima Sidasathien speak to the media ahead of their appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)

    Alan Morison, right, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan and his colleague Chutima Sidasathien speak to the media ahead of their appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)  (The Associated Press)

  • Alan Morison, left, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan, and his colleague Chutima Sidasathien prepare to leave for their appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)

    Alan Morison, left, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan, and his colleague Chutima Sidasathien prepare to leave for their appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand's Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)  (The Associated Press)

Testimony has started in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the trafficking of refugees from Myanmar.

The Australian editor of the Phuketwan website, Alan Morison, and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathien could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of defamation and violating the Computer Crime Act by publishing the article online.

The case has drawn criticism from human rights and press freedom groups around the world.

Foreign governments and rights groups have long accused Thai authorities of collusion in the trafficking industry, but police, military and government officials have denied the allegations.