Charges have been dropped against Le Nguyen Huong Tra, a blogger who was arrested in October 2010 for “defaming a senior party official.” Prosecutors finally decided that her actions were “less serious” and she therefore only needed to be “educated and warned,” a government-controlled news website reported today.
Better known by the blog name of Co Gai Do Long, Tra was released on bail in January. She had been facing up to seven years in prison.
Popular blogger granted conditional release after being held for three months
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Le Nguyen Huong Tra, better known by her blog name of Co Gai Do Long, has been granted a conditional release but is still facing a possible seven-year jail sentence on a charge of defaming a senior communist party official and his family in her popular blog.
Tra was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on 23 October after referring to the official’s son as a “womanizer”.
Maj. Gen. Cao Minh Nhan, the deputy chief of the Anti-Crime Police, was quoted as saying that she was freed because “her crime has been clarified.” She was reportedly released into house arrest after recognising the defamatory nature of her comments.
Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the withdrawal of all the charges against Tra and urges the authorities to grant her an unconditional release.
Popular woman blogger arrested over blog entry about senior party official
Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of Le Nguyen Huong Tra, well known in the Vietnamese blogosphere by the blog name of Co Gai Do Long. She was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh district on 23 October for allegedly defaming a senior Communist Party official and his family.
The press freedom organization calls for her immediate release and voices concern about an increase in arrests of bloggers in recent weeks. “The government should realize that, regardless of what it does, people will continue to criticise the authorities online,” the organization said. “This is a battle that the government has already lost.”
The author of one of the most popular blogs among Vietnamese Internet users, Tra writes about sensitive political issues with humour.
She alleged in a blog entry on 14 October that deputy public security minister Nguyen Khanh Toan had granted favours to a beauty queen and various performers who were the mistresses of his son, Nguyen Trong Khanh, a “womanizer” and consumer of drugs.
She had already accused the deputy minister in a previous entry of finding a political job for his son. The previous entry, which also accused the son of drug-taking, was later erased from the blog but by then it had been reposted on other sites.
If convicted, Tra could be facing up to seven years in prison.
With a total of 17 cyber-dissidents currently detained, Vietnam is the world’s second biggest prison for netizens, after China. It is ranked 165th out of 178 countries in the press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders released on 20 October.