Vietnam intensifies crackdown on bloggers

New York, July 2, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by the ongoing investigation into a critical Vietnamese blogger. Dinh Nhat Uy was the third blogger arrested in a month, signaling that the country’s crackdown continues to intensify.

“These three arrests over the course of a month signal Vietnam’s deepening crackdown on online journalists who express dissent,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “Vietnam’s human rights record continues to be dismal despite its economic success.”    

Uy is accused of “abusing democratic freedoms,” an offense that carries up to seven years in prison under article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code, according to news reports. He is being held for three months for investigation, Agence France-Presse reported. He was arrested in the southern Long An province on June 15, according to news reports.

Uy’s arrest follows those of bloggers Pham Viet Dao, who was detained two days earlier on similar accusations, and Truong Duy Nhat, who was arrested in late May.

Investigators said Uy was detained for “compiling and publishing distorted and untrue articles and pictures on his blog, tarnishing the prestige of state bodies,” according to state-run news reports. Computers, phones, flash drives, books, and laptops were confiscated from his home, reports said. Uy had been summoned by the police several times since his brother, a computer technician named Dinh Nguyen Kha, was arrested in October on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda.

Over the past year, Vietnam has intensified its grip on old and new media through a campaign of censorship, surveillance, and arrests and prosecutions. CPJ research shows that in each of the past several years, authorities have cracked down harder on critical journalists, focusing heavily on those who work online. All but one of the 14 reporters jailed at the time of CPJ’s 2012 prison census published blogs or contributed to online news publications. Vietnam also continues to ban private media; all newspapers and television channels are state-run.