Vietnamese blogger turns up in Hanoi jail after going missing in Bangkok
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Vietnamese authorities to clarify why they are holding Truong Duy Nhat, a well-known citizen-journalist and blogger who was last seen on 26 January in Bangkok, where he had requested refugee status. He is now in a prison in Hanoi, family members and a friend confirmed yesterday.
Nhat’s wife and daughter said he was taken into formal custody in Vietnam on 28 January. His wife, who like all his other relatives and colleagues had not heard from him since he went missing in Bangkok on 26 January, was notified on 15 March that he is being held in Hanoi’s T16 prison.
Nhat disappeared shortly after applying for refugee status at the Bangkok Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Pham Xuan Nguyen, a friend of the blogger, said he had accompanied Nhat’s wife to the prison. She was not allowed to see Nhat but, for the purpose of future visits, the prison authorities gave her register that said he was taken into custody on 28 January and was transferred to the prison the same day.
“It’s clear my father did not voluntarily go back to Vietnam,” his daughter said yesterday.
“We call on the Vietnamese authorities to fully explain Truong Duy Nhat’s status,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The reasons for his abduction and therefore arrest in Thailand must be clarified without delay. For the time being, everything indicates that he was arrested because of his journalistic activities. The precise role played by the Thai authorities in this matter must also be established.”
Nhat, who sometimes wrote political articles for Radio Free Asia, has not yet been formally charged and the reason why he was brought back to Vietnam has not been explained. He was previously sentenced to two years in prison in 2014 for “abusing democratic freedoms” by starting his own blog, in which he criticized the government.
Vietnam has Southeast Asia’s lowest ranking in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index – 175th out of 180 countries. Thailand is ranked 140th.