June 30, 2021
Defend the Defenders, June 30, 2021
Authorities in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have reportedly arrested local blogger Le Van Dung (aka Le Dung Vova) one month after issuing an arrest warrant for him.
Some sources said he was caught by security forces in his aunt’s house in Ung Hoa district, the home district of the blogger who later moved to Ha Dong district. Police were said to detain the 51-year-old blogger as well as his aunt and nephew, and took them to unknown places.
In late May, the Hanoi Police Department sent a group of security officers to Dung’s private residence in Ha Dong district with the aim to arrest him on the charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. However, Dung was not at home and the police confiscated his wife’ two smart phones and one laptop.
A few days later, the city’s Police Department issued a special arrest warrant calling for detaining the blogger. His aunt and nephew could be charged with “Concealment of crimes” or “ Misprision.”
Dung started his civil activities in 2011 by participating in anti-China protests objecting to China’s expansionism and violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea). Later, he joined other bloggers to work for CHTV channel, an independent channel established by political dissident Vu Quang Thuan who was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code 1999. Dung and other members of CHTV channel have used Facebook’s live-broadcast feature to transmit information on social issues such as land disputes and corruption, and to give ordinary citizens a chance to discuss matters of concern, drawing the attention of law enforcement and security agencies.
He has been summoned by the Hanoi police several times for interrogation about his posts. A few months ago, they questioned about his 12 videos, however, Dung admitted that only a half of them were conducted by him on which he talked about Vietnam’s issues while others were not his original ones.
Vietnam’s authoritarian regime strictly controls the media and persecutes independent journalists and bloggers. Dozens of Facebookers and bloggers have been imprisoned while others under regular harassment. The country has been placed in the groups of the countries in the bottom of the Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for many years. In 2020, it was ranked 175th among 180 countries in the index.