Three news reporters and two activists who fled from Myanmar amid the political unrest were arrested in Thailand’s northern region.
Thai police and Myanmar consular officials questioned the group before sending them to the Chiang Mai Immigration Office on May 12.
Thai human rights activists were reportedly seeking asylum in the country to avoid being deported back to their homeland.
They said they used to work for Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) but illegally entered Thailand two months ago as the licenses of independent media organisations were revoked following the military coup on February 1. They claimed they had been staying in a house in Chiang Mai since last month.
Police General Thapanapong Chairangsri said: ‘They were arrested on May 9 and charged with violating the Immigrant Act which could lead to two-year imprisonment or 20,000 Baht fine. The Thai house owner will also be prosecuted for allowing illegal immigrants to reside in the residence.’
Officers said deportation was not yet being considered as they were still waiting for the result of the court’s ruling and various factors would be taken into account before a final decision was made.
Sumitchai Hattasan from the Human Rights Lawyers Association said: ‘We’re collaborating with international organisations to find asylum for them as several reporters are escaping from a purge in Myanmar.’
DVB’s broadcast licence was revoked in March but it continued reporting the situation of the political unrest resulting in the military junta’s attempt to cease them.
Human rights groups claim that 783 people have been killed during a crack down on protests, which erupted across Myanmar when the army toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a military coup.