World News

Vietnam detains dissident blogger

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese police have detained a blogger who was critical of the ruling Communist Party, his acquaintances said on Saturday, just days after another dissident blogger was told to leave the newspaper he worked for.

Bui Thanh Hieu, who wrote online under the name “Nguoi Buon Gio”, which means Wind Trader, was picked up by police in Hanoi on Thursday and has not answered his telephone or been heard from since, said one acquaintance, who declined to be named out of concern for his own safety.

Hieu’s detention appears to be the latest in a string of arrests and other steps to silence dissent seen by some political analysts as part of a clampdown on free of speech in the one-Party state.

“He called me at about 6pm (on Thursday) and said he was sitting at the police and they were asking about some of his writings. After that when I called back he didn’t answer. Many others have also been unable to reach him,” the acquaintance said.

A Catholic priest who knows Hieu confirmed that he had been detained. Hieu’s wife said that she had not heard from him since Thursday but declined to comment further to avoid complicating his situation.

A duty officer who answered the phone at the Hanoi police headquarters said he did not know about the case.

Earlier this week, veteran reporter Huy Duc left the newspaper Saigon Thiep Thi (Saigon Marketing) after the paper came under pressure from authorities over his blog postings and may have even faced the threat of closure if he didn’t leave, said a foreign diplomat who follows dissident affairs closely.

Hieu had written blogs critical of the government’s handling of several sensitive topics, including relations with China and the dispute over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

Huy Duc’s “Blog Osin” also tested the limits of free speech with posts that were critical of policy and often attracted hundreds of reader comments.