Reporters Without Borders condemns reporter Huy Duc’s dismissal by the governmental daily Sai Gon Tiep Thi on 25 August for posting criticism of the Cold War-era Soviet Union on his personal blog.
"The sole aim of this arbitrary and ideological dismissal was to extend the reach of the censorship already exercised over all the governmental press", Reporters Without Borders said. "We hope that news and information websites will continue to display their characteristic vitality and outspokenness and that their spirit of resistance will not be undermined."
One of the newspaper’s editors, Tran Cong Khanh, said Huy Duc was fired because of what he had posted online. Huy Duc confirmed in his blog that he had been dismissed and, indicating that he encountered this kind of problem in the past, said he did not want to give up journalism.
In the offending entry in his blog (http://www.blogosin.org/) on 23 August, Huy Duc referred to the Berlin Wall as a "Wall of Shame," condemned the former Soviet Union’s "purges" in East Germany, and called the Soviet Union "an occupation force (…) that deprived people of their basic rights."
His blog, which is very popular in Vietnam, tackles sensitive issues with an openness that is extremely rare in a state media journalist and his firing is unquestionably part of a campaign to crackdown on blogs that criticise the government.
Tran Cong Khanh denied that Huy Duc’s dismissal was the result of government pressure, but the Communist Party’s Propaganda and Education Committee had complained about a hundred or so articles published online and in Sai Gon Tiep Thi.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is one of the 12 countries that Reporters Without Borders has identified as "Enemies of the Internet." It was ranked 168th out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.