Vietnam: Independent journalist arrested for opposing socialist party

Le Van Dung, the owner of CHTV, a digital news channel in Vietnam, was arrested on July 1. He was charged under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code for reporting on corruption and other issues deemed politically sensitive. The International Federation of Journalists urges the Vietnamese government to release Dung and condemns this attack on freedom of the press.

Vietnam's President Nguyen Xuan Phuc taking an oath during a National Assembly in Hanoi. Credit: STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP

The police initially attempted to arrest the independent journalist on May 25. Vietnamese authorities attended Dung’s house to place him under arrest yet he was away from home in Hanoi. Unable to arrest Dung, authorities instead took his computer and two phones belonging to Dung’s wife, Bui Thi Hue.

On June 1, authorities issued a special warrant for his arrest and Dung was detained. He was charged under Article 117 of the nation’s Penal Code which condemns “creating, storing, and disseminating information, documents, items and publications opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” This Article is often used to silence critics of Vietnam’s ruling party.

CHTV had released information on a Facebook live-stream relating to ongoing land disputes and corruption. This gave people a platform to discuss these issues, which drew the attention of authorities.

Human rights lawyer, Le Quoc Quan, said that “[Dung’s] livestreamed programs on Facebook and YouTube focused mainly on social realities and the kinds of current issues that attract people’s attention. He also helped people who are suffering from injustice to have their voices heard, at their own request.”

Vietnam continues to restrict any opposition to the single-party system and, as a result, Vietnamese press freedom remains non-existent.

The IFJ said: “The Vietnamese government is destroying all media freedom that is left in the country. The IFJ calls on the government to release Le Van Dung and all journalists charged under Article 117 and to repeal this legislation. The rights and safety of journalists must be protected so that they continue to produce content that informs the people of Vietnam.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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