Vietnam arrests popular blogger for ‘abusing democratic freedoms’
A prominent Vietnamese blogger has been arrested for posting articles critical of the communist government, reports said on Monday, in the latest crackdown on dissent in the authoritarian country.
Truong Duy Nhat, 49, was arrested Sunday at his home in coastal Danang city and escorted to Vietnam’s capital Hanoi for questioning, the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
He stands accused of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state”, a charge that could result in a maximum seven years in jail, the report said.
Nhat, who had worked for Vietnam’s official press but quit in 2011, writes the popular blog “A Different Viewpoint”.
His posts offer alternative commentary on Vietnam’s news from the staid official press, and Tuoi Tre said they had “attracted heated debate” online.
It has not been possible to access his blog — which frequently dealt with highly sensitive political issues — since his arrest.
In a late April post, Nhat called for Vietnam’s top leaders to resign, saying “it’s time for a new party general secretary and prime minister” to save the nation from its economic and political woes.
Vietnam bans private media, with all newspapers and television channels state-run. Lawyers, bloggers and activists are regularly subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, according to rights groups.
In February, journalist Nguyen Dac Kien was fired from his state-run newspaper after criticising the head of the ruling Communist Party on his personal blog.
So far in 2013, at least 38 activists have been convicted of anti-state activity under what rights groups say are vaguely defined articles of the penal code.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]