Vietnam: Journalist arrested over infrastructure criticism

Truong Chau Huu Danh, a former state media reporter and a founder of the Facebook news page Bao Sach or ‘Clean Newspaper’, was arrested on December 17 after criticising a contentious infrastructure program in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns Truong’s arrest and demands his immediate release.

Credit: Canva

Truong was detained after posting his criticism of the country's build-operate-transfer (BOT) highways to his Bao Sach page. The project was implemented in recent years as a funding mechanism for Vietnam and involved the construction of toll booths and new methods of toll collection that sparked public protest. Truong had previously reported on the protests against "illegal toll collection" and the “illogical construction of tollbooths.”

Truong, who previously worked for several local newspapers, was arrested for allegedly abusing democratic freedom and publishing posts against the state under Article 331 of Vietnam’s 2015 Penal Code.

Police detained Truong in Can Tho before being transferred to authorities in his hometown, close to Long An province. If found guilty, the journalist could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. The prosecutor in Can Tho has approved Truong's detention of up to three months for investigative purposes.

The Bao Sach Facebook page currently has more than 100,000 likes. Facebook has around 60 million users in Vietnam and has frequently been used as a platform to express “anti-state” protests. Vietnamese authorities have threatened to shut down Facebook if the company does not agree to censor more local political content.

The IFJ said: “IFJ condemns the arrest of Truong and the continued intimidation against journalists and human rights activists in Vietnam. IFJ calls on the Vietnamese authorities to cease their persecution and release the detained journalist.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram