Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, the latest blogger to be detained in Vietnam. His arrest on 27 December confirms his country’s position as the world’s second biggest prison for netizens, after China.
Better known by the blog name of Nguyen Ngoc Gia, he was arrested at his Ho Chi Minh City home, which was searched by police. The public security ministry said the 48-year-old Ngoc was detained for “illegal activities.” No further details are so far available. Ngoc often writes for independent blogs and news sites such as Dan Lam Bao (People’s Newspaper) and Dan Luan (People’s Opinion) and for Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese service, criticizing the authorities and their persecution of dissidents. In a 10 December post on Dan Lam Bao, he reported that his email account and Facebook page had been hacked. “This latest arrest is part of the one-party system’s repressive policies aimed at silencing all criticism,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon sad. “We urge the authorities to immediately release Ngoc and all the other detained bloggers, whose only crime is wanting to provide fellow citizens with freely-reported information.” Ngoc is the third blogger to be arrested in the past month, following Hong Le Tho on 29 November and Nguyen Quang Lap on 6 December. The police have also been using physical violence against dissidents and close relatives. The victims have included Truong Minh Duc, an independent journalist who was attacked by police officers in early November. Some dissidents such as the Reporters Without Borders “information hero” Pham Chi Dung and the bloggers Hoang Van Dung and Nguyen Hoang Vi have been subjected to increased surveillance in the past few days that was probably linked to the 25-27 December visit to Ho Chi Minh City by Yu Zhengsheng, the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The authorities use the most spurious grounds for arresting bloggers who provide outspoken news coverage. A total of 29 are currently detained on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms,” “subversion,” “anti-government propaganda” or “trying to overthrow the government.” Sign the Reporters Without Borders petition for their release. Vietnam is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.