Bangkok, July 17, 2018 - Vietnamese authorities yesterday suspended and fined local news website Tuoi Tre Online on accusations that it published false information, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the ban.
"We condemn this blatant act of censorship in Vietnam's already highly restricted news environment," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. "This ban should be lifted and the government should stop censoring the media on arbitrary and flimsy grounds."
On Monday, Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communication announced that the state-run publication would be suspended for three months and fined 20 million dong (US$10,000) for a June 19 report that authorities said misquoted President Tan Dai Quang endorsing a law on public demonstrations.
The Tuoi Tre report came amid a crackdown on demonstrators who protested across the country against two controversial laws on special economic zones and cybersecurity. The ministry said the report was "untrue" and caused "severe impacts," news reports citing the statement said.
The ministry statement also said comments posted on a separate Tuoi Tre report in 2017 on a highway development had undermined "national unity", the reports said. The ministry announcement required Tuoi Tre to amend the story, issue an apology to readers, and suspend publication for three months. The newspaper connected with the website published a note today saying it would comply.
All mainstream media in Vietnam is controlled by the dominant Communist Party. News reports said Tuoi Tre's other news publications, run by Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Youth Union, would be allowed to continue publishing as normal. It was not immediately clear what law the publication stands accused of violating.