A young independent journalist writing under the name of Le Tuan, he was arrested by the police in Ho Chi Minh City on 12 June after receiving threatening and intimidatory messages for months from the public security bureau, Vietnam’s domestic intelligence agency.
Tuan is facing up to 12 years in prison under article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code on a charge of “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information and materials to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
He had been covering Vietnamese politics with a particular focus on civil society efforts to democratize the country. His arrest comes less than a month after the arrests of two other IJAVN members, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, its vice-president, and Pham Chi Thanh, both eminent veteran journalists who used to be revolutionaries before becoming critics of the moribund one-party state.
“The arrest of another independent journalist, Le Huu Minh Tuan, is a confirmation of the nervousness within the Vietnamese Communist Party’s current leadership six months ahead of its 13th five-yearly congress,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “This young reporter had been playing a major role by peacefully covering the aspirations of Vietnam’s civil society. By silencing those who speak out, the Communist Party’s leaders are behaving like a ruling class that just seeks to protect its privileges.”
Vietnam has long been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Index.