Vietnamese police detain journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, family say

Detention comes as Vietnamese government vies for re-election on UN Human Rights Council.
By RFA Vietnamese
2024.03.01
Vietnamese police detain journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, family say Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, seen in an undated photo, was arrested Feb. 29, 2024 after publishing articles suggesting the government would 'collapse.'
Nguyễn Vũ Bình via Facebook

Authorities in Hanoi have detained a journalist and long-time critic of the Vietnamese government, a relative told RFA Vietnamese on Friday, in the latest sign of the squelching of dissent in the communist-ruled nation.

Police took Nguyen Vu Binh, 55, into custody on Thursday. He was then briefly brought home to pack some clothes and his house searched on the basis of a warrant, the relative said. 

His family was informed that he was being arrested but not provided any documents, before Binh departed with the police. The reason for his arrest was not immediately clear.

“The police brought Nguyen Vu Binh home, read out the search warrant, a list of confiscated items and other documents, and took him away,” said the relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. “However, he was not handcuffed.”

Binh worked for 10 years as a reporter with the official Tap Chi Cong San, or Communist Review, before becoming a prominent activist in Hanoi.

In December 2003, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced him to seven years in jail for “espionage,” accusing him of collecting and composing documents “distorting” the democratic and human rights situation in Vietnam and sending them to “reactionary organizations” overseas.

He was released in early 2007 as part of an amnesty order, after which he continued to participate in peaceful activities promoting human rights.

Binh has been a regular contributor of blogs published on the RFA Vietnamese web site. 

Running for re-election

Nguyen Van Dai, a Germany-based human rights lawyer, told RFA that on Wednesday Binh had received a summons from the Hanoi Security Investigation Agency ordering him to attend a meeting on Thursday regarding his participation in video livestreams on the YouTube channel TNT Media Live, owned by San Jose, CA-based radio station Tieng Nuoc Toi, or My Country’s Language. 

But Dai said that Binh had stopped participating in those programs in June 2022.

Vietnam is ruled by a communist government that is intolerant of dissent. It is currently running for re-election as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Vietnam sits 178th out of 180 nations on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The Paris-backed watchdog says Vietnam is the world’s third largest jailer of journalists.

New York-based Human Rights Watch presented Binh with the Hellman-Hammett Award twice, in 2002 and 2007, for writers around the world “who have been victims of political persecution and are in financial need.” He is also an honorary member of the International PEN organization. 

Three bloggers who contributed to RFA Vietnamese are currently serving prison terms in Vietnam: Truong Duy Nhat, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Nguyen Lan Thang.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Mat Pennington.

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