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Vietnam Arrests Prominent Journalist for Facebook Posts

The authorities in Vietnam have arrested one of the country’s most prominent journalists and accused him of “abusing democratic freedoms” by posting articles on Facebook that “infringed on the interests of the state and the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals.”

The journalist, Truong Huy San — known to many by his pen name, Huy Duc — was taken into custody last week, according to a prominent Vietnamese blogger. But there was no official confirmation until Friday night, when state news media reported that the Ministry of Public Security was investigating Mr. San for his Facebook posts. There were no details on the content of the posts.

The arrest is an ominous sign for other writers in Vietnam. Journalists have long been a target for the country’s ruling Communist Party, which frequently crushes dissent. But Mr. San had for years managed to navigate the very small space for independent thought, often publishing articles that criticized the government. His connections with high-level officials were thought to have been a buffer — until now.

Mr. San’s case is part of a sweeping repression of civil society that many rights groups say has expanded in scale and scope in recent years. The law that he has been accused of violating is an “overly broad” one that the authorities frequently use against critics of the government, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Huy Duc is the most influential journalist in Vietnam,” said Ben Swanton, a director at the 88 Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit that focuses on human rights issues in Vietnam. “His arrest represents an alarming attack on freedom of the press and is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on reformers.”

Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to