Illustrative photo. (Source: The Guardian)

Bangkok (VNA) – Jonathan Head, a correspondent for BBC Southeast Asia in Thailand, on February 23 appeared in court in Phuket city.

The correspondent, along with Ian Rance, another British citizen, was sued by Thai lawyer Pratuan Thanarak for defamation, as a BBC report accused him of notarising fake documents to defraud Rance. Both defendants pled not guilty.

Head faces an additional charge under Thailand's Computer Crimes Act, which has a five-year maximum jail penalty. He was forced to surrender his passport to the court, making him unable to leave the country as the lawsuit could last two years.

In a statement, the BBC said it stands by its journalism and intends to clear their correspondent’s name.

In late 2016, the BBC had to close its office in Thailand after the broadcaster was accused of defaming Thai royals. Head has been accused of royal defamation on three occasions.-VNA