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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
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Vietnam

Police arrest independent reporter in Vietnam

Journalists denounce repression of press freedom, urge immediate release of Le Huu Minh Tuan

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Updated: June 16, 2020 07:36 AM GMT
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Police arrest independent reporter in Vietnam

Journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan (right) and poet Bui Minh Quoc pose for a photo in 2017. (Photo: Facebook)

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Press groups have slammed Vietnam for persistently cracking down on press freedom after an independent journalist was arrested.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City said they arrested Le Huu Minh Tuan, known as Le Tuan, on June 12 for “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information and materials to oppose the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the criminal code.

They also seized documents and materials related to Tuan’s alleged crime from his house in the southern central province of Quang Nam.

Police accused the 31-year-old journalist of having links to Pham Chi Dung, president of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, who has been held in detention without trial since last November.

Tuan, who studies law at a university in Hanoi, is being held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Chi Hoa prison. If found guilty, he could face a jail term of up to 20 years.

The Independent Journalists Association, a professional civil society organization established in 2014, said Tuan “is an enthusiastic young intellectual, full of enthusiasm, and concerned about the country’s hot issues.”

It said Tuan is among three association members to have been arrested. Another is Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 70, who was arrested on May 24.   

The association said that with the arrests of its three members and constant harassment of other members, the government is violating and eliminating the rights to free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association that it has committed to in the Law of International Treaties and the constitution.

It accused authorities of completely eliminating peaceful criticism and destroying civil society organizations.

“We condemn the blatant repression of the Vietnamese government against the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam in particular, civil society organizations in general as well as other citizens who use their rights to freedom of speech and press to voice their concerns,” it said in a statement.

It denounced Vietnam’s violations and warned the international community about the government’s heavy-handed oppression of the basic rights of its citizens.

It called on all people to support independent journalists in the fight for freedom of the press.

On June 15, France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the arrest of Tuan, who had been covering Vietnamese politics with a particular focus on civil society efforts to democratize the country.

“This young reporter has been playing a major role by peacefully covering the aspirations of Vietnam’s civil society. By silencing those who speak out, the Communist Party leaders are behaving like a ruling class that just seeks to protect its privileges,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, urged Vietnam to immediately release Tuan and stop its campaign of harassment of other members of the association.

“Vietnam will never be viewed as a responsible international actor as long as it continues to treat independent journalists like criminals,” he said.

Vietnam has long been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Index.

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