Vietnam police arrest anti-government blogger

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese police on Wednesday detained a prominent blogger for distributing anti-state information, the latest in a crackdown on critics of the country’s Communist rulers.

Ho Van Hai, 52, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City and accused of “spreading information and documents on the internet that are against the government of the Social Republic of Vietnam”, according to a statement by Ho Chi Minh City police on their website.

Police will investigate and handle Hai’s violations in accordance with the law, the statement said. Hai’s Facebook page and blog were inaccessible as of Wednesday night.

Despite sweeping reforms to its economy and increasing openness toward social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and zero tolerance for criticism.

Last month Vietnam police detained prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, or “Me Nam” (Mother Mushroom), for running “propaganda” against the state. The United States, European Union and Britain called for her release.

Another well-known Vietnamese political blogger and his assistant lost their appeal in September when a higher court upheld their jail terms and reaffirmed they had abused their freedom and hurt the state’s interests.

Editing by Alison Williams