December 2, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Another blogger arrested for “abusing democratic freedoms”

Reporters Without Borders condemns the Vietnamese public security ministry’s arrest of Hong Le Tho, a Vietnamese blogger of Japanese origin, in Ho Chi Minh City for posting “bad content and incorrect information that reduce trust in state agencies.”

Hong Le Tho was arrested on 29 November for posting an article critical of the ruling Communist Party on his blog “Nguoi Lot Gach” (“brick-layer”), which dealt mainly with political issues. The authorities seized his laptop, his mobile phone and USB flash drive, and closed the blog shortly after his arrest (see cached version).

Aged 65, he is facing a possible three-year jail sentence under article 258 of the criminal code for “abusing democratic freedoms to attack state interests and the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens.”

The authorities has been waging an all-out campaign of repression for several years,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “We urge them to stop gagging dissidents and to repeal criminal code article 258, which should not be used against any defender of freedom of information.

Bloggers such as Nguyen Huu Vinh (also known as Anh Ba Sam), Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy and Dinh Nhat Uy continue to be leading targets of a regime that does not hesitate to use article 258 as grounds for arresting and jailing dissidents.

Pham Viet Dao was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Truong Duy Nhat was sentenced to two years in prison. Uy was given a suspended 15-month sentence on 29 October.

In response, Vietnam’s bloggers formally created the Vietnamese Bloggers Network on 10 December 2013, with a campaign against article 258 and its use to silence dissidents as their first action.

Reporters Without Borders is also combatting the growing crackdown on Vietnamese bloggers and has posted a petition online demanding the release of all the detained bloggers.

Vietnam is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.