After obtaining confirmation of the arrests of three young Internet users at their home on Nguyen Kiem Street in Ho Chi Minh City on 19 October, Reporters Without Borders today condemned their detention as arbitrary and called for their immediate release.
Reached by telephone, Chau Thi Hoang, the mother of Truong Quoc Tuan and Truong Quoc Huy, confirmed that her two sons are still being held along with Lisa Pham, the fiancee of one of the brothers. She said she had an official document saying they were accused of violating article 19 of the criminal code by inciting the population to “overthrow the government.”
Different sources have said the real reason for their arrest was simply their participation in a chat room about democracy on the Pal Talk (paltalk.com) website.
On 8 December, Reporters Without Borders had called on the Vietnamese authorities to explain why they were arrested. The request did not receive any answer.
Reporters Without Borders is also are aware of the details of the official report of the raid carried out on the detainees’ home at 603 Nguyen Kiem Street, which says the police confiscated notebooks, a hard disk, a computer and a printer. It names only one of the three detainees, Truong Quoc Huy.
Weeks go by without news of Kiem Street chat room users
Reporters Without Borders today asked the Vietnamese authorities for information about three Internet users who were arrested at their home on Nguyen Kiem Street in Ho Chi Minh City on 19 October. Local sources say they were detained for participating in a chat room on the Pal Talk (paltalk.com) website.
“We hope this case can be cleared up quickly,” the press freedom organisation said. “If these Internet users were arrested for taking part in an online discussion forum, we will do everything possible to obtain their release. Vietnam recently said it did not deserve to be on the list of Internet enemies which we published in November so we are waiting for it to show its commitment to free expression.”
Local sources say police established a security perimeter around the Truong home on Nguyen Kiem Street when they made their arrests. A total of four people were originally detained : Truong Quoc Tuan, his two brothers, Truong Quoc Huy and Truong Quoc Nghia, and his fiancee, Lisa Pham, a Vietnamese with US residency.
Truong Quoc Nghia was reportedly released later, but Reporters Without Borders is still without any word of the other three. They are supposedly being held for taking part in a chat room on the Paltalk.com website called “The Voice of the People in Vietnam and Abroad.” The authorities have said nothing about where or why they are being detained.
The chat room has some 200 to 300 regular users who go there to discuss politics and issues concerning Vietnamese society. One of them told Reporters Without Borders: “I am very worried about these young people who were kidnapped outright by the police. We think agents have infiltrated our forum to try to wreck it. For example, someone is currently using a pseudonym very similar to mine in order to discredit me and say I am a communist. These young Internet users may have been taken in by a police agent posing as a friend.”