Monday, January 19, 2009

CPJ protests restrictions on bloggers and journalists

Increased restrictions on blogging and journalists in Vietnam was protested by Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, in a Jan. 16, 2009 letter to Vietnam president Nguyen Manh Triet. Simon noted a new directive passed last December, which Simon said effectively bans bloggers from posting material "perceived as opposing the state, undermining national security, or divulging state secrets. The directive, Circular 07/2008/TT-BTTTT, also required domestic Internet service providers to begin maintaining databases on individual blogs and censoring content that authorities consider sensitive.

"The new restrictions effectively give government officials greater authority to crack down on the growing number of Vietnamese-language Web sites, many of which are critical of your government's policies and provide an important counterpoint to the news and views disseminated by your country's tightly controlled state media."

Simon protested increased restrictions of journalists, including the firing of two editors for Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre newspapers on Jan. 2 because their newspapers had reported on a major corruption scandal; and the trials last October of the two journalists who reported on it. In addition, he protested the imprisonment of blogger Nguyen Van Hai, pen name Dieu Cay, officially detained because of tax evasion, but actually because of his reporting on China-Vietnam border issues.

Sources: Letter of Joel Simon, Jan. 16; see also Vietnam News Service, Dec. 25, and BBC News Dec. 24, for discussion of the blog directive; CPJ Oct. 15 for reporting of trials of journalists for reporting on the corruption scandal.


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