HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Two journalists will go on trial after being charged with reporting false information about one of Vietnam’s most high-profile corruption cases, state media reported Tuesday.
Reporters Nguyen Van Hai and Nguyen Viet Chien were charged formally with “abusing freedom and democracy,” an offense that carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years. The two are known for aggressive reporting on corruption at two of the country’s largest and most respected dailies.
Two police officers who provided information to the journalists will also be tried on charges of “deliberately revealing state secrets,” the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper said.
The trials could start within two weeks at the Hanoi People’s Court, it said.
Security agents jailed the two journalists on May 12 citing unspecified inaccuracies in their reporting on a major scandal at Vietnam’s transportation ministry that erupted in 2005.
The case led to the conviction of nine people accused of illegally betting millions of dollars on European football matches with money embezzled from a unit of the ministry that managed major road and bridge building projects.
The unit received substantial funding from the World Bank and the Japanese government.
The case prompted the transportation minister to resign and led to the arrest of the deputy minister, although the charges against him were dropped in March.
The Nguoi Lao Dong report said one of the policemen charged with revealing state secrets is Gen. Pham Xuan Quac, the scandal’s chief investigator.
Prosecutors and officials at Vietnam Journalists Association were not available for comment Tuesday.