BANGKOK (ANN/THE STAR) – Thai police has denied an actress claims of extortion, retorting that she was detained because she could not produce a passport.
Actress Charlene An (An Yu-Qing) said she and her friends were victims of a police shakedown early this month while on holiday in Bangkok. Her claim has made national headlines, to the dismay of Thai tourism operators.
The actress said police stopped their taxi at a checkpoint close to an embassy on Ratchadaphisek Road on the night of January 4 and detained the group for two hours. She said the police eventually released her and her friends in return for a payment of THB27,000.
Metropolitan Police Bureau’s deputy commissioner Major-General Samroeng Suanthong said he had discussed the incident with the six policemen involved at Huai Khwang Police Station.
He said the officers admitted they had challenged the actress group over their passports but insisted they had not taken cash from them.
The checkpoint was part of routine traffic safety operations over New Year, he added.
Samroeng said the six policemen had difficulty communicating with the tourists and were forced to use English and hand gestures.
“The actress appeared intoxicated and did not have a passport,” he said, adding that the police officers eventually decided to release the group as they were not considered dangerous. Samroeng said the officers also warned the actress that her electronic cigarette was illegal in Thailand, but did not fine her.
He said it would now be difficult to summon the actress to give her side of the story, but said police are still seeking clues from CCTV camera footage.
He also confirmed that the incident had damaged the reputation of the police but declined to say whether it had eroded confidence in Thai tourism.
Tourism operators said repeated scandals involving the Thai police have damaged the country’s reputation abroad.
Royal Thai Police spokesperson Archayon Kraithong doubled down by insisting that officers had taken no money from the actress group.