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Four king-bashing clips removed from YouTube

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Google has agreed to pull four videos from YouTube which Thailand claims insult the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Reuters reports.

The Thai authorities have blocked YouTube since one ne'er-do-well posted a 44-second clip which outraged Thai Buddhists due to "the juxtaposition of a pair of woman's feet, the lowest part of the body, above his [Adulyadej's] head, the highest part of the body".

Thailand asked Google to excise the clip, but the search monolith declined. The poster then removed the video himself, but it was quickly replaced with equally-provocative material which further agitated the military regime.

Last week, things took a turn for the litigious when Thai communications and information technology minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said he would "push for criminal charges" against Google, a threat which appears to have prompted action.

In a letter to Pookaiyaudom signed by senior company lawyer Kent Walker, Google explained that Thailand had "sent YouTube bosses a list of 12 video clips it deemed offensive". Six were pulled by the posters because they breached the site's "code of service", and a further four will be removed, according to the missive.

This is not, however, an end to the matter. Google declared it would not take action over the two remaining clips in question, explaining: "They appear to be political comments that are critical of both the government and the conduct of foreigners. Because they are political in nature, and not intended insults of His Majesty, we do not see a basis for blocking these videos."

While Pookaiyaudom said in response that Thailand will not now pursue Google through the courts, he would not confirm "if the concession was enough for him unblock YouTube for Thai internet surfers". ®

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