Vietnam arrested a famous journalist who posted articles on Facebook

Vietnamese authorities have arrested one of the country’s most famous journalists and accused him of “abusing democratic freedoms” by posting articles on Facebook that “infringed on the interests of the state, legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals”.

According to a famous Vietnamese blogger, journalist Truong Huy San – widely known by his pen name Huy Duc – was arrested last week. But there was no official confirmation until Friday night, when state media reported that the Ministry of Public Security was investigating Mr. San over his Facebook posts. There are no details about the content of the article.

The arrest is a worrying sign for other writers in Vietnam. Journalists do has long been a goal for country Ruling Communist Party, often crushing dissent. But Mr. San has for years sought to navigate the very small space for independent thought, often publishing articles critical of the government. His relationships with senior officials were thought to be a stepping stone – until now.

Mr. San’s case is part of widespread repression of civil society which many human rights groups say has expanded in scale and scope in recent years. According to Human Rights Watch, the law he is accused of violating is an “overbroad” law that authorities frequently use against government critics.

“Huy Duc is the most influential journalist in Vietnam,” said Ben Swanton, director at project 88, a US-based non-profit organization focusing on human rights issues in Vietnam. “His arrest represents an alarming attack on press freedom and is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on reformers.”

Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN America have all called on the government to release Mr. San.

Vietnamese state media reported on Mr. San’s case along with the arrest of lawyer Tran Dinh Trien, who was charged with the same crime as Mr. San. Mr. Trien, former Deputy Director of the Hanoi Bar Association, has represented many clients in high-profile cases. He was also arrested for posts he made on Facebook.

After Mr. San, 62, disappeared on June 1, his Facebook account with more than 350,000 followers was deactivated and its posts taken down.

Screenshots saved by Project 88 show that on May 26, Mr. San targeted the police on Facebook with the headline: “THE COUNTRY CANNOT DEVELOP BASED ON FEAR.” He criticized the concentration of power in the Ministry of Public Security, most recently led by the Ministry of Public Security. To LamNew chairman appointed.

On May 28, Mr. San posted an article criticizing the corruption crackdown initiated by the head of Vietnam’s powerful Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong. Mr. San wrote that fighting corruption needs to be done through institutions, not by “eliminating” a few corrupt senior officials.

In 2016, Mr. Trong said that his “fiery” anti-corruption campaign would eliminate “bad roots” and purify the party, but it also shocked Vietnam in unusual numbers. senior resignation.

If Mr. Trong “does not point out a political roadmap to make the country more democratic, his innocence is meaningless,” Mr. San wrote in a post on May 28.

Mr. San received the Hubert H. Humphrey Scholarship to study at the University of Maryland in 2005-2006. When he returned to Vietnam in 2006, he founded a popular blog specializing in political and social commentary. Vietnamese authorities shut down the blog in 2010.

In 2012, Mr. San spent a year at Harvard University on a Nieman Fellowship, during which time he wrote an article about Vietnam’s postwar period titled “The Winning Side.” The book is banned in Vietnam and is considered by many to be the definitive account of postwar Vietnamese history and politics.

According to the 2024 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, Vietnam ranks 174/180 countries and territories.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the country has “the fifth worst prison worldwide,” with at least 19 reporters detained as of December.


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