Facebooker arrested as Vietnam’s internet crackdown continues

Police detained a social media user under a law that rights groups say is used to stifle freedom of expression.
By RFA Vietnamese
2024.03.03
Facebooker arrested as Vietnam’s internet crackdown continues The Security Investigation Agency of Lam Dong provincial police execute an arrest warrant for Hoang Viet Khanh on March 01, 2024.
Vietnam police

Vietnam has again used a controversial section of its law to prosecute people for expressing their opinions with the arrest of 41-year-old Facebooker Hoang Viet Khanh.

Lam Dong Provincial Police announced his detention for “anti-state acts” on Friday, Vietnamese media reported.

They said Khanh posted and shared articles, video clips and images on social media that “smear the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and insult Ho Chi Minh” the party founder and former president of North Vietnam.

The police said its Cyber ​​Security and Crime Prevention Department monitored Khanh’s social media accounts and passed the information on to the Security Investigation Agency of Lam Dong provincial police. 

The agency decided to prosecute Khanh for “making, storing, distributing or propagating information and documents aimed against the state” under the controversial Article 117 of Vietnam’s criminal law.

Vietnam has arrested five people under Article 117 this year alone, according to Radio Free Asia’s records. 

Popular YouTuber Nguyen Chi Tuyen was detained on Thursday on anti-state propaganda charges.

Also on Thursday, journalist and long-time government critic Nguyen Vu Binh was taken into custody by Hanoi police. Binh has been a regular contributor of blogs published on RFA’s website. 

On Monday, family members went to the headquarters of Hanoi Police’s Security Investigation Agency to ask for information about Binh, according to a relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

“A police officer verbally informed Mr. Binh’s family that he was prosecuted and investigated under Article 117 of the Penal Code,” the relative told RFA. “He is being temporarily held for four months at Detention Facility No. 1 of Hanoi police.”  

International human rights groups, including Protect Defenders, have accused Vietnam of misusing Article 117 to stifle freedom of expression.

Vietnam is currently seeking reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2026-2028 term. Groups including Human Rights Watch and CIVICUS have spoken out against the bid, telling RFA that Hanoi continues to deny its citizens the basic freedoms of speech, assembly and association.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.

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