Vietnamese anti-corruption reporters arrested

Other News Materials 13 May 2008 09:52 (UTC +04:00)

Police in Vietnam have arrested two prominent anti-corruption reporters for "abusing their position and power while on duty," an official said Tuesday.

Nguyen Viet Chien of the newspaper Thanh Nien and Nguyen Van Hai of the newspaper Tuoi Tre were arrested Monday and their homes searched by police, said Bui Ngoc Soi, head of the Ministry of Public Security's Investigative Department, the dpa reported.

"I can confirm the arrests, but nothing else about the case can be said now as the investigation is under way," Soi said.

Police charged the two reporters with abusing their positions while collecting information about the gambling and bribery cases of the head of a state-owned transportation project management unit called PMU18. Police said the reporters published false information, causing "negative public opinion," according to the newspaper Tien Phong.

Nguyen Viet Chien, 56, and Nguyen Van Hai, 33, wrote several investigative stories in 2006 about the PMU18 scandal, in which millions of dollars were embezzled from road and bridge projects that had received foreign aid.

The scandal led to the resignation of transportation minister Dao Dinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, in 2006. Nguyen Viet Tien was released in October, and his membership in the Communist Party was restored last week after the People's Supreme Court decided to drop the investigation into his involvement in the scandal.

The police on Monday also arrested Dinh Van Huynh, a senior official in the Social Crime Investigation Department, which was in charge of the PMU18 case, the newspaper said.

According to Tien Phong, dozens of journalists reporting about the PMU18 scandal have been interrogated by police regarding their collection of information in the case.

"I am innocent," Nguyen Viet Chien told his newspaper before being taken to a police detention centre. "My only offense is actively opposing corruption."

Nguyen Quoc Phong, vice editor-in-chief of Thanh Nien, was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying that "the arrest of the two reporters of Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre at this time is abnormal."