Vietnamese bloggers under close watch during Trump-Kim meet in Hanoi
Several Vietnamese bloggers were arrested or placed under close surveillance during this week’s talks in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this latest harassment of Vietnam’s few remaining dissident voices.
Two bloggers, Le Van Dung and Cat Linh, were arrested as they photographed and filmed the US delegation travelling through the centre of Hanoi on 27 February. The police released them in the evening after holding them for several hours.
The bloggers placed under surveillance included Nguyen Lan Thang, who is known for his outspoken posts and contributions to Radio Free Asia. He said he was closely watched at his Hanoi home.
Nguyen Tuong Thuy, a blogger known for his opinion pieces, received a visit at his home on 24 February from three police officers, who questioned him about his planned movements and told him not to “welcome Trump and Kim.” The blogger Dung Voa’s wife said the authorities were afraid that dissidents would accept invitations to conferences organized by embassies.
“There is no justification for the arrests or surveillance of these bloggers aside from the Vietnamese regime’s obvious desire for total news control,” RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said. “Although Hanoi used the summit to declare itself the ‘capital of peace,’ the event allowed the world to see the authoritarian excesses of a regime that is terrified of dissidents making their voice heard.”
Bloggers and citizen-journalists are the constant targets of increasingly harsh persecution and a total of 29 are currently detained. Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.