Vietnamese blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ fears arrest for Facebook activity

New York, November 7, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned about the safety of Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who has been repeatedly questioned by local police in Nha Trang about her activity on Facebook, and says that she fears arrest. Vietnam currently imprisons 17 journalists, most of them bloggers, according to CPJ research.

“Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is wise to fear for her safety and freedom after being hauled in for questioning by police. Vietnam’s record of abuse of bloggers is well known,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call on the government to stop harassing journalists and release all those in prison without condition or delay.”

In an email message Thursday to embassies and non-governmental organizations inside and outside of Vietnam, Quynh–who blogs under the name Me Nam (Mother Mushroom)–asked for international publicity of her situation to head off possible arrest. Quynh, a pioneer of Vietnam’s blogging movement, is a co-founder of the press freedom group Network of Vietnamese Bloggers.

“As you know, I am committed to my cause and want to continue to defend my civil and human rights, but I also want to take care of my daughter and my baby son,” she said.

In her message , Quynh said she feared she would be charged under Article 258 of the penal code, which penalizes “propagandizing” against the state or “abusing democratic freedoms.” The law is often used to threaten and imprison journalists, according to CPJ research. She said she was called into a local police station several times over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to answer questions about her Facebook account.

CPJ explored the lack of press freedom in Vietnam, including the government’s pursuit of bloggers, in a four-part series in September. CPJ Southeast Asia Senior Representative Shawn Crispin interviewed Quynh when he reported from the country.

On October 21, Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, who is also known by the name of his blog, “Dieu Cay,” was released from prison after having been jailed since April 2008. CPJ honored Hai in November 2013 with its International Press Freedom Award.