CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Shawn W. Crispin

CPJ Senior Southeast Asia Representative Shawn W. Crispin is based in Bangkok, where he is a reporter and editor for Asia Times Online. He has led CPJ missions throughout the region, and is the author of the CPJ special report, "Vietnam’s press freedom shrinks despite open economy."

Blog   |   Vietnam

Undercover in Vietnam: Room for debate frees up but bloggers remain imprisoned

In the final part of CPJ's "Undercover in Vietnam" series on press freedom in Vietnam, Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin reveals how prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai remains behind bars for his critical writing despite the margin for debate opening. The series concludes with recommendations for the Vietnamese government and international bodies.

Petitions calling for the release of Nguyen Van Hai are scattered across a table at the CPJ International Press Freedom Awards. Hai is serving a 12-year sentence for blogging. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for Committee to Protect Journalists/AFP)

Incarcerated for the past six years in poor prison conditions, Nguyen Van Hai has suffered dearly for his critical views on China. First detained on trumped up tax evasion charges in 2008, and subsequently convicted in 2012 on anti-state charges for blogging, 62-year-old Hai is currently serving a 12-year jail term that his family fears could be a death sentence in view of his declining health.

September 30, 2014 10:44 AM ET

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Blog   |   Vietnam

Undercover in Vietnam: Exile is high price reporters pay for press freedom

In the third of CPJ's four-part "Undercover in Vietnam" series on press freedom in Vietnam, CPJ Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin interviews a reporter living in exile after challenging the censorship imposed in newsrooms. The final part, to be published Tuesday, reveals how prominent bloggers remain behind bars despite the margin for critical debate opening. The series concludes with recommendations for the Vietnamese government and international bodies.

Newspapers are stacked on a Ho Chi Minh City street. The country's state-run press is heavily censored, reporters say. (AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

On December 9, 2012, mainstream journalist and sometimes blogger Pham Doan Trang was arrested while reporting on an anti-China protest in Ho Chi Minh City. She was taken to a rehabilitation camp for commercial sex workers, where she was interrogated by a group of seven officials.

Blog   |   Vietnam

Undercover in Vietnam: Reporters become martyrs for their paper's cause

In the second of CPJ's four-part "Undercover in Vietnam" series on press freedom in Vietnam, CPJ Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin reveals the persecution faced by Redemptorist News journalists, who have been jailed, harassed, and had their passports revoked for reporting on human rights. In part three, due to be published Monday, Crispin interviews a journalist forced into exile after highlighting censorship in Vietnam's press.

Catholics attend Mass in Ho Chi Minh City in 2007. An online newspaper set up by priests and activists reports on the plight on this religious minority. (AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

In a church compound in the bustling heart of Ho Chi Minh City, journalists and editors upload the latest online edition of Redemptorist News in a secret backroom bureau. First established in 1935, the Catholic newspaper was shut down by the ruling Communist Party in 1975 after consolidating its control over the country's once divided northern and southern regions.

September 26, 2014 10:28 AM ET

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Blog   |   Vietnam

Undercover in Vietnam: Bloggers play risky game of cat-and-mouse to report

In the first of a four-part "Undercover in Vietnam" series on press freedom in Vietnam, CPJ Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin explores the risks bloggers take so they can cover news events and protests. Under near-constant surveillance and with the threat of arbitrary detention hanging over them, the desire for an independent press drives Vietnam's bloggers to continue to write. In part two, to be published Friday, Crispin reveals the persecution faced by Redemptorist News journalists. Parts three and four will be published next week.

An anti-China protest in Vietnam in May. Bloggers who cover rallies risk being imprisoned under anti-state charges. (AFP/VNExpress)

When Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh left her home in the central coastal city of Nha Trang to cover anti-China protests a 10-hour bus ride away in southern Ho Chi Minh City, the prominent blogger disguised her appearance to evade plainclothes officials stationed nearby to monitor her meetings and movements.

Blog   |   Burma

Burma clampdown gathers pace as legislation passed

In a clear step backwards for press freedom in Burma, new legislation will give the government censorship powers and the sole authority to issue and revoke news publication licenses. While the legislation enshrines into law broad press freedom guarantees, specific provisions will give the Ministry of Information ultimate power over what news is permissible for publication.

Blog   |   Thailand

First step to justice in Fabio Polenghi's killing

A memorial to Polenghi (Reuters)

EDITOR'S NOTE: A court in Thailand ruled today that Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi was shot and killed by a bullet fired by a soldier during a government crackdown on street protesters on May 19, 2010.  The inquest ruling established the circumstances surrounding his death but failed to apportion blame to any individual military commanders or politicians in power at the time.

Elisabetta Polenghi, Fabio's sister, indicated after the trial that she will pursue criminal charges to bring those directly responsible for her brother's death to account. CPJ Senior Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin was in attendance at today's verdict and at an evening press conference with Elisabetta Polenghi at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand. The following are excerpts of Crispin's statement at the press conference:

Blog   |   Burma, USA

Premature praise for Burma's press reforms

U.S. President Barack Obama and President Thein Sein of Burma meet in the White House. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

Burmese President Thein Sein made a historic visit to the White House on May 19, the latest in a series of high-level symbolic exchanges between the two nations. While Thein Sein has been regularly commended by U.S. officials for his broad democratic reform program, President Barack Obama's praise this week overlooked a significant backtracking on promised media-related reforms.

Blog   |   Thailand

Small attack on Thai newspaper has large implications

A Red Shirt protester holds a portrait of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at a rally in Bangkok on May 8. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

To head off rising tensions between supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and cartoonist Somchai Katanyutanan, who faces possible criminal defamation charges for critical comments he posted on his personal Facebook page, Thailand's government has to make sure police fully investigate this weekend's attack on Thai Rath, the country's largest circulation daily newspaper. The government's public sensitivity to expression such as Somchai's has spurred recent political violence in Thailand, including threats against journalists. 

Blog   |   Burma, Internet

As censorship wanes, cyberattacks rise in Burma

Kachin Independence Army soldiers guard an outpost in Northern Burma's Kachin-controlled region on January 31. Journalists who cover the conflict have been subject to email hacking attacks. (AP/Alexander F. Yuan)

Cyberattacks on news websites and apparent government hacking into journalists' email accounts have raised new questions about the integrity of media reforms in Burma. The New York Times reported on Sunday that several journalists who regularly cover Burma-related news recently received warning messages from Google that their email accounts may have been hacked by "state-sponsored attackers."

Blog   |   Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger reports sexual assault by officials

Vietnam's crackdown on independent bloggers hit a new low in recent days with reports of sexual violence perpetrated by state officials against a prominent online reporter.  

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