Vietnam police arrest dissident for attempt 'to overthrow government'

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 25, 2017 12:24 AM

HANOI (Reuters) - Police in Vietnam have arrested a prominent dissident they have accused of conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the government, in what appeared to be latest effort by the Communist-ruled country to crack down on critics.

Police in central Nghe An said Le Dinh Luong, 51, was arrested on Monday. They said on their news website Luong had conducted "regular activities with the aim to overthrow the authority and complicate local security" but did not elaborate.

It was not possible to contact Luong and it was not known if he had legal representation.

Despite sweeping reforms to the economy and growing openness to social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam's Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism.

Several dissidents and bloggers voiced support for Luong online. With information tightly controlled by the government, some critics take to web blogs to air their grievances and social media sites, including Facebook, are hugely popular.

In June, a Vietnamese court jailed prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Me Nam" (Mother Mushroom) for 10 years for publishing propaganda against the state.

According to her lawyer, Quynh was found guilty and sentenced at a one-day trial, six months after she was arrested for posting what police described as anti-state reports, including one about civilians dying in police custody.

Luong and Quynh had both spoken out against a subsidiary of Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp that caused one of Vietnam's biggest environmental disasters in April.

New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report earlier last month that said Vietnamese human rights bloggers were being beaten and intimidated.

Separately, dissident Tran Thi Nga, who was also arrested in January on charges of promoting propaganda against state, was due to go on trial later on Tuesday.

(Editing by Paul Tait)