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Vietnam blogger arrested on anti-state charges

November 2, 2016

A Vietnamese blogger who posted articles critical of the government was arrested Wednesday, police said, the second such detention in less than a month.

Communist Vietnam routinely comes under fire by rights groups, who accuse the government of silencing dissent and say activists are subject to arbitrary detention and arrest.

“Ho Van Hai, 52, was caught red-handed disseminating information and documents on the internet against the communist state,” police in the southern business hub Ho Chi Minh City said in an online statement.

The statement added that Hai would be investigated and punished according to the law.

His Facebook account and blog, known for criticising the one-party state, could not be accessed Wednesday.

Ho Chi Minh City’s colonel Nguyen Sy Quang said Hai’s posts had undermined public trust of the government, according to quotes in the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Quang said he may have violated Article 88 of the criminal code, which rights groups have said is vaguely worded.

Last month rights activist and blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as Me Nam, meaning “Mother Mushroom”, was detained on the same charge which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Several Western governments had called for the release of Quynh, a member of the independent Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, who was awarded the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year by a Sweden-based international advocacy group.

Scores of dissidents are behind bars in Vietnam, where private media is banned.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.