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Former journalist arrested in Vietnam after criticizing the state on Facebook

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In Vietnam, authorities have arrested a popular social media influencer for posting anti-state content. While the south-east Asia country has made some reforms, the government still does not take kindly to criticism on social media.

In the last week, state media reported the arrest of Truong Chau Huu Danh, a 38-year-old with more than 168k followers on Facebook. According to the Ho Chi Minh City police newspaper, Danh will spend three months in jail for posting content against the state and, if convicted under Article 331, Danh could face up to seven years in prison.

“Danh owns a Facebook page with nearly 168,000 followers and has got several anti-state posts, causing division of national unity,” the report stated.

“Vietnamese journalist Truong Chau Huu Danh should be released without charge immediately, and allowed to continue his work,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Vietnam must stop its escalating harassment of independent journalists who use Facebook to publish the news.”

State media reported the Can Tho Police Investigation Agency raided Danh’s home in Long An province and seized documents relating to his arrest.

In the recent past, Vietnam has taken some major steps – the government seems more open to social change, and there have been great leaps in the economy. Still, the ruling Communist Party still does not condone criticism. Over the past few weeks, there has been a crackdown on activists due to the upcoming party congress in January.

The government closely monitors Facebook, which has about 60 million users in Vietnam. Some Vietnamese use the platform to express their dissatisfaction with the government. The government had even threatened to block Facebook if it did not comply with the demands to remove political dissent on its platform.

Amid the government’s efforts to curb online speech, people have turned to blogs for content that the state-run media will not report.

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