June 14, 2013 / 9:07 AM / 6 years ago

Vietnamese police arrest anti-government blogger

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese police have arrested an author and blogger for posting anti-government comments online, according to authorities, the latest in a crackdown on critics of the country’s Communist rulers.

Pham Viet Dao, 61, was arrested on Thursday at his Hanoi home and accused of breaching a law prohibiting “abuse of democratic freedom” and “infringements against the state”, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

If the case goes to trial and Dao is found guilty, he could face seven years in prison.

Dao has long been critical of Vietnam’s one-party system. Like other bloggers bold enough to test the limits of Vietnam’s constitutionally enshrined free speech, Dao has gained notoriety as internet usage grows and discontent simmers over the government’s handling of a stale economy and rampant graft.

His arrest follows that of former journalist Truong Duy Nhat on May 26, who was also held under the same law.

The authorities have taken a harsh line on dissent, with arrests and convictions on the rise in the past three years and bloggers increasingly targeted as the number of web users soars to a third of Vietnam’s estimated 90 million people.

The United States is keen to boost trade with Vietnam but has urged improvements in its human rights record as a prerequisite before strengthening defense and diplomatic ties.

In a June 5 address to Congress, the U.S. State Department’s envoy for democracy, Daniel Baer, described Vietnam’s crackdown on bloggers as part of “a years-long trend of deterioration”.

Compiled by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel

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