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Vietnam 23 April 2007

Leading woman writer arrested for disseminating “hostile propaganda” online

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the detention of leading writer and journalist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, whose arrestment, in Hanoi, for publishing articles critical of the government on the Internet and in the dissident press was announced today by the vietnamese medias.

The authorities said the police caught Thuy in the act of disseminating subversive documents online on 21 April. A portable USB drive containing “libellous” articles was taken from her. She is charged with violating article 88 of the criminal code, which bans the “dissemination of propaganda hostile to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

“The Vietnamese government’s control of the media and Internet is particularly excessive,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There no longer seems to be any limit to the growing hostility it has been displaying towards dissidents since the end of last year. We are dismayed by the harassment of Thuy, who is also one of the editors of the Hanoi-based underground newspaper To Quoc. Her arrest marks a new stage in the crackdown on the dissidents, who last year expressed themselves more freely.”

Thuy’s home was already searched on 10 March, and many documents critical of the Vietnamese regime were seized. Thuy is well known in Vietnam for her novels and political essays. In January, she received Human Rights Watch’s Hellman-Hammett prize for “courage in the face of political repression.”

During last November’s APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] meetings in Hanoi, Thuy was one of many dissidents, including journalists writing for independent publications, who were unable to leave their homes because police were stationed outside.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the imminent trial of two lawyers and cyber-dissidents, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, who have been held since 6 March on charges of “hostile propaganda.”

Vietnam is on the Reporters Without Borders list of 13 Internet Enemies.

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