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8 Jul 2021

Reporters Without Borders

Vietnam: Independent journalist arrested over trumped-up charge, claims media freedom NGO

"Independent Vietnamese journalist arrested on trumped-up tax charge", 8 July 2021

Hanoi police officially announced the investigation against Mai Phan Loi on 2 July, one week after he was initially arrested on 24 June, on a warrant with the extremely vague charge of “tax evasion,” which carries a possible seven-year prison sentence under article 200 of the penal code. It did not specify the nature of the alleged crimes or the amount supposedly evaded.

Loi made a name for himself in the Vietnamese blogosphere thanks above all to a series of interviews he conducted with experts on economic, social and environmental issues in Vietnam. Before that, he was the deputy editor of Phap Luat (The Law), a state-controlled magazine covering legal issues...

The same charge of tax evasion was also used to arrest another expert on legal issues, Dang Dinh Bach, on the same day as Loi’s arrest.

As well as a journalist, Loi also made a name for himself as a defender of editorial freedom in the Vietnamese media. It was as such that he was included in a group of six civil society representatives who met then US President Barack Obama during Obama’s visit to Hanoi in May 2016.

Loi joins the growing list of Vietnamese journalists who began working for the state media and were arrested after later choosing to work freely and independently. The victims of the wave of arrests of such journalists, which began more than a year ago, include Pham Doan Trang, a recipient of the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2019...