Police in Vietnam arrested a Ho Chi Minh City university professor on Wednesday on charges of slandering a local Communist Party official by accusing him of plagiarizing the thesis he wrote for his doctoral degree, according to state media reports.
Pham Dinh Quy, a lecturer at Ton Duc Thang University, was taken into custody on Sept. 23, but was formally arrested on Sept. 30 under Article 156 of Vietnam’s Penal Code after publishing articles online and in print criticizing Dak Lak province party chief Bui Van Cuong.
Pham was seized by police while dining with his wife in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh district, and his posted articles were taken down, with one online magazine fined VND 50 million (U.S. $2,000) and its print version suspended for two months.
Following Pham’s arrest, family members petitioned authorities in Vietnam’s central government and in the central highlands province of Dak Lak for permission to visit Pham in custody, saying they had been denied access during his earlier week-long period of detention.
Vietnamese police routinely investigate postings on Facebook and other online media that authorities claim “slander or offend the prestige” of Vietnamese government leaders, including Communist Party members and provincial officials.
On Sept. 18, authorities in the country’s south central coastal province of Binh Dinh arrested Le Van Hai, a Facebook user, for sharing his grievances online about how local government authorities had handled a dispute over his family’s land, charging him with “abusing freedom and democratic rights to infringe upon the interests of the state” under Article 33 of Vietnam’s 2015 Penal Code.
Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent has deteriorated sharply this year with a spate of arrests of independent journalists and publishers, as well as Facebook personalities. And activists say things are likely to get worse as authorities stifle critics in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party congress in January.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.