JANUARY 5, 2005
Posted January 27, 2005

Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, Tuoi Tre
Lan Anh, a staff reporter for the daily Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, was indicted on a charge of “appropriating state secrets.” The January 5 announcement of legal action against Lan Anh followed her series of investigative articles about manipulations of the drug market by the pharmaceutical company Zuellig Pharma.

Lan Anh was ordered not to leave her home in Hanoi, sources told CPJ. The indictment stems specifically from a May 2004 article by Lan Anh in which she quotes a document submitted by the Health Ministry to the Prime Minister. In the document, the health minister recommends a comprehensive investigation of Zuellig Pharma Vietnam, a subsidiary of the multi-national Zuellig Pharma.

In her articles, Lan Anh wrote that the pharmaceutical company’s monopoly on the market of certain medicines in Vietnam had been driving up drug prices to “unacceptable levels.” In February 2004, the company signed a commitment with the Health Ministry to stabilize its prices, but the Vietnamese government allowed Zuellig’s import contract to expire in September 2004.

Tuoi Tre is a popular daily that enjoys wide circulation in Vietnam. It is owned by the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union, an organization under the direct management of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The action against Lan Anh came amid a government drive to further restrict online and print journalism in Vietnam.