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Vietnam 29 March 2006

Vietnamese authorities deny arrest of fourth user of "Paltalk"

Reporters Without Borders notes that the Vietnamese authorities have denied the arrest of a fourth user of the discussion forum Paltalk, which it reported in a 16 March release.

"We are pleased that the Vietnamese government has finally agreed to provide information on his case. We urge them to do the same for the three other ’Paltalk Internet-users’ who our sources tell us were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of October 2005," it added.

"In fact, the authorities are denying this fourth arrest, but have never confirmed or denied the arrests of Truong Quoc Tuan, Truong Quoc Huy and Lisa Pham."

The organisation added that the authorities have twice refused to issue visas to its staff who were seeking to enter the country to discuss freedom of expression on the Internet. "We are therefore wary of this new policy of ’transparency’, which seems to us very selective," it said.

The press freedom organisation posted on 16 march an audio recording on its website of police arresting the Internet-user in a cybercafé after he joined a discussion on the Paltalk forum. The forum’s administrator, under the pseudonym Vuong Bat Nha, has confirmed the recording was genuine.

In its release, Reporters Without Borders said it did not know the name of the arrested man or if he was still being held.


16.03.2006

Police seize fourth Internet-user discussing democracy on Paltalk.com

An audio tape recording the police arrest can be heard on the site

Police raided a cybercafé and arrested an Internet-user on 12 March 2006, while he was taking part in a discussion forum on democracy hosted by Paltalk.com.

The forum’s administrator recorded the entire discussion including the police raid and arrest (see file below). Three others, "the Internet-users of Kiem Street", were arrested five months ago for joining discussions on the same forum and nothing has been heard of them since.

"We don’t know the identity of the person arrested on 12 March, so it’s impossible to find out if he is still being detained,” said Reporters Without Borders.

“But this episode very well illustrates the risks run by Vietnamese democrats to get themselves heard. It also provides an insight into the kind of battle going on between the police and these young people who know their way around the Internet”, it added.

“We included Vietnam last November in countries we classify as “Enemies of the Internet” which earned us virulent criticism from the Hanoi authorities. These new arrests confirm that Vietnam deserves to be on the list”, said the organisation.

An Internet-user calling himself “Freedom for the country” (Tucdochodatnuoc) joined the discussion group "Democracy and Freedom, the only way for Vietnam” (Dan Chu Tu Do con duong Duy Nhat Cho Viet Nam) on 12 March. He went online at a Hanoi cybercafé, most likely at 65 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street. He discussed politics for around half an hour with two other people who were in the discussion. During the discussion he said he was a member of a pro-democracy working group. The entire conversation was recorded by the forum administrator, using the pseudonym Vuong Bat Nha.

While they were talking on the online forum, police entered the cybercafé and arrested him. On the recording someone can be heard asking him to go with them, and then someone else shouting “Hit him”. The administrator continued recording after the police intervention and no-one came to disconnect the computer linked to Pal Talk. Afterwards, a man’s voice is heard on the microphone introducing himself as the cybercafé’s owner and confirming that one of his customers has been taken away by police. He added that he had been fined for “violating Internet law”.

In October 2005, three other Internet-users, Truong Quoc Tuan, Truong Quoc Huy and Lisa Pham, were arrested for taking part in pro-democracy discussion forums on Paltalk.More details.

MP3 - 3.5 Mb
Audio recording (vietnamese)

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Government frees cyber-dissident while keeping online activities under strict control
19 January - Vietnam
Government announces early release of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien
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