Police arrested Tung, a prize-winning investigative reporter with the state-controlled Vietnamese-language daily Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, accusing him of receiving a bribe from a bar owner in Bien Hoa town in southern Dong Nai province, according to local press reports.
Tung had recently reported investigative stories in Phap Luat detailing noise level violations, drug abuse, and illegal pole-dancing in some of the town’s entertainment venues. Local reports said the journalist was alleged to have accepted a 50 million dong ($2,370) bribe from the owner of one of the bars to stop his reporting. The reports added that two individuals identified as Tung’s reporting assistants, Nguyen Van Tai, a university student, and Duong Van Minh, a local official, were arrested on the same accusation of bribery. Police claimed the three had demanded a total of 200 million dong ($9,481) to stop their reporting.
While in custody, Tung allegedly confessed to demanding a bribe, according to the police’s local newspaper Cong An Nhan Dan. His paper’s editor-in-chief, Pham Phu Tam, could not confirm the confession, according to other local reports. Police authorities in Vietnam often coerce confessions from suspects in custody, according to CPJ research.
Local police were implicated in Tung’s reporting for not upholding the law at the exposed entertainment venues.
Police raided Tung’s home on the day of his arrest and seized a computer, camera, camcorder, and cartons of documents among other items.
The journalist is known for his investigative reporting on corruption issues. An exposé he wrote on the unregulated incineration of government-seized meat products was recognized by the Ho Chi Minh City Journalists Association as the top news story of 2012. Tung also exposed a bribery racket involving traffic police and gas stations along a national highway in the country’s southern region.
Tung and his two assistants were being held in detention in Hanoi while an investigation into the accusations continued. They each face a potential 20 years in prison if convicted on bribery charges.