Reporters Without Borders condemned Vietnamese police harassment after a former bank employee who regularly posts pro-democracy articles online, was arrested and questioned for 24 hours before being released.
Do Nam Hai was held throughout 9 December in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnamese police were using intimidation to try to gag pro-democracy Internet-users, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The organisation has previously condemned harassment of Do Nam Hai in December 2004. It said that the articles he posted, under the pen name of Phuong Nam, put forward peaceful ideas and contained no calls for violence or subversion.
His arrest came less than two months after the arrest of the Internet-users of Kiem Street, who were accused of taking part in a pro-democracy discussion forum (more details) .
Authorities harass cyber-dissident Do Nam Hai
Reporters Without Borders today hailed the courage of Vietnamese cyber-dissident Do Nam Hai in daring to openly criticise the authorities in articles posted on the Internet, and condemned the harassment he has received in recent months, including two days of arrest and interrogation on several occasions.
"Do Nam Hai has chosen to express his convictions despite the risks he runs," the organisation said. "His courage is remarkable in a country where any questioning of the regime can lead straight to prison, and we call on the Vietnamese authorities to stop harassing him and thereby show they respect free expression."
A bank employee now residing in Ho Chi Minh City, Do Nam Hai lived for a while in Australia where he wrote five articles under the nom de plume of Phuong Nam that were posted on the websites Dan chim viet (www.danchimviet.com) and Mang y kien (www.ykien.net).
The articles were entitled: "Vietnam, my country" (2000), "Reforms in Vietnam" (2001), "Reflections on the reevaluation" (2001), "On President Ho Chi Minh" (2001) and "Further reflections on the reevaluation" (2001). In one of them, he asked the government to hold a referendum on whether Vietnam should adopt the multi-party system.
Despite his use of a nom de plume, the authorities harassed after his return to Vietnam in early 2002. He was arrested and held for two days in August 2004. He said he was also questioned a dozen times by the police, usually in public places. Two month being interviewed by the US-operated Radio Free Asia in October, the police searched his home, took his computer and told him he would only be able to recover it "after the information on it has been erased." He says the police also read his e-mail.
He complained about the harassment in an open letter to the Communist Party Central Committee on 10 December, saying: "This is correct. I have written all those articles. I was pushed to write and publish them because of my love for my country. In want to contribute a little to the cause of democracy in Vietnam." He also reiterated his call for a referendum on Vietnam’s political system.
Four cyber-dissidents are currently in prison in Vietnam: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, former journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, Dr. Pham Hong Son and businessman Nguyen Khac Toan.