Hanoi police arrest the dissident writer and blogger Pham Chi Thanh
He allegedly violated Article 117 of the Criminal Code, which punishes those who produce documents or writings "against the state". At present there is no official formalization of the charge. The agents broke into his home and confiscated computers and information materials. His wife in shock.
Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Vietnamese police in Hanoi have arrested a famous dissident writer and blogger. He is being charged with having produced and distributed information criticizing the government in the context of an escalation in the communist authorities’ repression of critical voices.
His wife Nguyen Thi Nghiem told Radio Free Asia (Rfa), a group of police officers took Pham Chi Thanh, better known as Pham Thanh, from their home yesterday morning at 8am. “While my son opened the door - says the woman - several policemen entered the house. I heard noises and ran. "
The agents, continues his wife, "asked me where my husband was." They picked him up, telling him that "they had an arrest warrant for him and an authorization to search the house."
After reading the document, the agents seized two computers, a printer, some documents and arrested Pham, leaving the house two hours later. The woman reports that she was in a state of shock during the frenzied phases of the police raid, so much so that she did not understand clearly what the charges against her husband are.
A few hours later another dissident writer wrote on his Facebook page that Pham Chi Thanh was arrested on the basis of article 117 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code, for having " for “producing, storing, and disseminating information and documents against the Vietnamese state". At the moment there are no independent confirmations or official statements by the judiciary about the charge.
Born in 1952, Pham Thanh has written a number of books and essays critical of Vietnam’s communist government and leaders, including a book self-published in 2019 harshly criticizing Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
Dissent is not tolerated in Vietnam, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers, bloggers, and activists calling for greater freedoms in the one-party communist state. Estimates of the number of prisoners of conscience now held in Vietnam’s jails vary widely. New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that authorities held 138 political prisoners as of October 2019, while Defend the Defenders has suggested that at least 240 are in detention, with 36 convicted last year alone.