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HomeAsiaVietnam Police Officially Confirm Arrest of Two Activists, Reports Radio Free Asia

Vietnam Police Officially Confirm Arrest of Two Activists, Reports Radio Free Asia

Vietnam’s state-controlled media have finally broken the silence on the arrest of two famous human rights activists after police confirmed their detention.

The reports come a week after Nguyen Chi Tuyen and Nguyen Vu Binh were taken in for questioning by the Hanoi police.

Tuyen, 50, is a social activist, regularly participating in protests about national sovereignty and environmental protection. He is best known for running YouTube channels commenting on the issues.

Nguyen Vu Binh, 56, is a former editor of Tap Chi Cong San, or Communist Review, and a blogger for Radio Free Asia. RFA issued a joint statement with PEN International, which supports writers at risk, calling for his immediate release.

The Hanoi Police Security and Investigation Agency said on Feb. 29, they executed arrest and search warrants for the two men on charges of “propaganda against the state” under Article 117 of the law.

The Voice of Vietnam website said Tuyen repeatedly used YouTube and X to spread what it called “fake news.”

His wife, Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, told RFA police did not give the family any documentation about the arrest of her husband.

She said during the house search, the police only read out the warrants, which she did not remember fully due to the stress of the occasion.

RFA’s reporter could not contact Nguyen Vu Binh’s family.

About a year ago, Nguyen Chi Tuyen shut down his Anh Chi Rau Den YouTube channel, which had around 100,000 viewers. He then launched a new channel, AC Media, which is still on YouTube with around 60,000 viewers, focused on reports about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

A year ago Hanoi police questioned him about some old YouTube live streams and this January they banned him from leaving the country.

“Vietnam must free bloggers Nguyen Chi Tuyen and Nguyen Vu Binh and cease its unremitting harassment of independent reporters,” said Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Southeast Asia representative on Thursday. “It’s high time Vietnam stopped equating journalism with criminal behavior.”

Vietnam was the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, with at least 19 reporters arrested as of Dec. 1, 2023, according to CPJ’s annual global prison census.  

Human Rights Watch also condemned the two arrests and the abuse of Article 117 to suppress freedom of expression.

“The Vietnamese government treats all online expression of peaceful political views as a dire threat to the ruling party and government, and crushes such dissent with politically motivated arrests, trials, and prison sentences,” said HRW Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson.

The U.S.-based group called on Vietnam’s government to stop the crackdown on bloggers, human rights campaigners and social activists, and demanded the immediate release of people detained solely for exercising their basic human rights.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang. 

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