Vietnamese online critic carried off to prison

Vietnamese police have detained a former journalist who ran a blog containing anti-state views, authorities said Monday, part of a widening crackdown on dissent in the Communist-run country.

Truong Duy Nhat, 49, was taken into custody on Sunday and police searched his house in the central city of Danang. He complied with an urgent warrant issued against him, the ministry of public security said in a statement Monday. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in jail.

Online dissent has grown in the past year as Vietnam wrestles with deep economic woes that have shattered its image as one of Asia’s hottest emerging markets. Some bloggers have harshly criticized Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, accusing him of cronyism and economic mismanagement, which he denies.

The ministry said Nhat violated a clause of the penal code on abusing democratic freedoms with acts against the state. It did not elaborate on his actions.

Nhat, a former journalist at state-run newspapers, including one run by the Danang police force, was moved to Hanoi for further investigation, state media said.

He quit his journalist job in 2010 and ran a blog titled Truong Duy Nhat, “a different viewpoint,” that was known for criticism of top government officials including the prime minister.

He also conducted an online opinion poll just weeks before the national assembly’s first-ever confidence vote on top officials, scheduled for early June.

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