Pham Viet Dao (Reuters/Nguyen Lan Thang)
Pham Viet Dao (Reuters/Nguyen Lan Thang)

Prominent Vietnam blogger arrested in Hanoi

New York, June 14, 2013–Vietnamese police in Hanoi arrested a blogger on Thursday on accusations of anti-state activity, according to news reports. Pham Viet Dao wrote blogs that were critical of government officials and policies, the reports said.

Dao, 61, who also wrote about politically sensitive issues such as the territorial dispute with China, was accused of violating Article 258 of the Vietnam’s penal code for “abusing democratic freedoms,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement, according to news reports. If convicted, Dao could face a jail term of up to seven years, the reports said.

Dao’s arrest follows that of another blogger, Truong Duy Nhat, who was detained under similar accusations in late May.

“The arrest of a second blogger within a month shows the intensifying crackdown on critical dissent in Vietnam,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “While the Internet has been an outlet for dissent in Vietnam, the limited space is rapidly closing.”

Dao, a former official at the Ministry of Culture and long-standing member of the Vietnamese Communist Party, has become a well-known blogger in the country with thousands of followers, according to reports. His blog was not accessible today, reports said.

Over the past year, Vietnam has intensified its grip on old and new media through a campaign of censorship, surveillance, and imprisonments. CPJ research shows that in each of the past several years, authorities have ramped up their crackdown on critical journalists, focusing heavily on those who work online. All but one of the reporters imprisoned in 2012 published blogs or contributed to online news publications.