Police in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi arrested RFA blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy on May 23, 2020, accusing him of “making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes,” his wife told RFA.
Thuy, 70, was vice-chairman of the Vietnam Independent Journalists Association and is the fourth member of the group arrested in the past year.
His wife, Pham Thi Lan, confirmed the arrest in a brief telephone interview with RFA’s Vietnamese Service. She said police escorted him to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi, where he and his wife live.
RFA had called police investigator Tran Hoang Hiep, whose name is on Thuy’s warrant, for comment on the case, but he asked for proof the reporter was actually from RFA and then hung up the phone.
On June 30, 2020, six human rights groups sent letters to the Prime Minister of Vietnam and the European Union calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Thuy and two other human rights defenders. The groups urged the Vietnamese government “to cease all harassment of other activists from the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam,” according to a statement from the International Commission of Jurists. Thuy, a 22-year military veteran, had been summoned by Hanoi police three times in connection with the arrest on Nov. 21, 2019, of Pham Chi Dung, the chairman of the Vietnam Independent Journalists Association. He is accused of propagandizing against the state.
On May 21, 2019, police also arrested another member of the association, dissident writer Pham Thanh, on the same charges laid against Nguyen on Saturday — “making, storing, disseminating documents and materials for anti-State purpose” under Article 117, of the Penal Code of Vietnam.
Thuy, who has written weblog commentaries on civil rights and freedom of speech for RFA’s Vietnamese Service for six years, visited the United States in 2014 to testify before the House of Representatives on media freedom problems in Vietnam.
He told RFA at the time that he was “interested in the development of social media in Vietnamese society. In Vietnam nowadays, freedom of press is restricted and the government only recognizes state media.”