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Family of journalist Nguyen Vu Binh claim Vietnamese police have detained him, Radio Free Asia reports.

A journalist and long-time critic of the Vietnamese government has been detained by authorities in Hanoi, according to a relative who spoke to RFA Vietnamese on Friday. This latest incident highlights the crackdown on dissent in the communist-ruled nation.

Nguyen Vu Binh, 55, was taken into custody by police on Thursday. He was briefly allowed to go home to pack some clothes before his house was searched based on a warrant, the relative revealed.

Although his family was informed of his arrest, they were not provided with any documents before Binh was taken away by the police. The reason for his arrest remains unclear.

“The police brought Nguyen Vu Binh home, read out the search warrant, a list of confiscated items, and other documents, and then took him away,” said the relative, who spoke anonymously due to security concerns. “However, he was not handcuffed.”

Binh previously worked as a reporter for 10 years with the official Tap Chi Cong San, or Communist Review, before becoming a prominent activist in Hanoi.

In 2003, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for “espionage” by the Hanoi People’s Court. He was accused of gathering and creating documents that “distorted” the democratic and human rights situation in Vietnam and sending them to “reactionary organizations” overseas.

After being released in early 2007 as part of an amnesty order, Binh continued to participate in peaceful activities promoting human rights.

Binh has been a regular contributor to blogs published on the RFA Vietnamese website.

Running for re-election

According to Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer based in Germany, Binh received a summons on Wednesday from the Hanoi Security Investigation Agency to attend a meeting on Thursday regarding his participation in video livestreams on the YouTube channel TNT Media Live, owned by the San Jose, CA-based radio station Tieng Nuoc Toi, or My Country’s Language.

However, Dai stated that Binh had stopped participating in those programs in June 2022.

Vietnam is governed by a communist regime that does not tolerate dissent. The country is currently seeking re-election as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Ranked 178th out of 180 nations on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Vietnam is considered the world’s third largest jailer of journalists, according to the Paris-based watchdog.

Binh has twice received the Hellman-Hammett Award from the New York-based Human Rights Watch, in 2002 and 2007, for writers who have been victims of political persecution and are in financial need. He is also an honorary member of the International PEN organization.

Currently, three bloggers who contributed to RFA Vietnamese are serving prison sentences in Vietnam: Truong Duy Nhat, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Nguyen Lan Thang.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Mat Pennington.


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