Reporters Without Borders today called for the release and an end to harassment of the independent journalist Nguyen Hoang Hai, known under his blogging name Dieu Cay, who was arrested for “tax fraud” on 19 April.
Dieu Cay had posted articles on his blog about protests worldwide during the Olympic torch’s progress through various cities, along with articles critical of China’s policy in Tibet and the Parcel and Spratly archipelagos. He had called for demonstrations as the torch passed through Ho Chi Minh-City.
“Tax fraud was just a pretext to prevent Dieu Cay from demonstrating when the Olympic torch went through Ho Chi Minh-City and from criticising the communist party online,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The authorities claim that he paid no tax for ten years on premises which he owns, but Dieu Cay rents out the premises to Hanoi Eyewear Co in an agreement authorised by Vietnamese law under which the company should pay the tax themselves. No date has been fixed for his trial.
The blogger, who took part in demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh-City at the start of the year in protest against the Chinese government, is regularly watched by the authorities and frequently summoned to the police station to explain his activities.
He has been particularly closely watched by the authorities since March. Local police in district 3 of Dalat, having not seen him for one month, on 24 April search his house and seized papers.
“Clearly, the authorities have no proof about this accusation of fraud,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They searched his house five days after his arrest. All his immediate associates have been questioned about his activities, particularly about the “Free journalists’ club” which he founded.”