Another blogger arrested in Vietnam crackdown

Bangkok, October 28, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest and detention of Vietnamese blogger Le Nguyen Huong Tra. Her arrest is the latest episode in a mounting crackdown on bloggers leading up to a crucial Communist Party congress scheduled for January 2011.

Tra, who writes under the penname Do Long Girl, was taken into custody at her Ho Chi Minh City home on October 23, according to international news agencies. Her arrest stemmed from entries posted to her blog, the reports said.

In a blog entry dated October 14, Tra claimed that Deputy Public Security Minister Nguyen Khanh Toan provided favors to women who had romantic relations with his son, the news reports said. The nature of those favors was not specified. In an earlier entry, Tra had accused Toan’s son of breaking the law.

Authorities declined to speak with the media about Tra’s case and did not disclose the specific charges against her.

“Like all Vietnamese citizens, bloggers have the right to free expression, which is enshrined in their country’s constitution,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “If officials are unhappy with entries posted by Le Nguyen Huong Tra or any other blogger, they can seek recourse under civil law, rather than relying on criminal charges to confront reporting they find objectionable.”

On October 18, police arrested Phan Thanh Hai, a blogger who wrote under the name Anh Ba Saigon (Saigon Brother Three), after raiding his Ho Chi Minh City home. His wife, Nguyen Thi Lien, told reporters that he was detained on charges of publishing false information on his blog. Authorities also seized documents and three of his computers during his arrest.

Government officials also this month extended the detention of Nguyen Hoang Hai, a popular blogger who wrote under the name Dieu Cay (Peasant’s Pipe). He was sentenced to two years in prison in September 2008 on trumped-up tax evasion charges and was scheduled for release on October 20, according to international media reports and CPJ research.