Vietnam Suspends Online News Source, Citing 'Fake News'
Home | News | VietnamVietnam Suspends Online News Source, Citing âFake Newsâ 2018-07-17
Vietnamese authorities shut down the Tuoi Tre online news source for three months on Monday, accusing the popular media outlet of spreading âfake newsâ and promoting divisions between the northern and southern halves of the country.
The July 16 decision by Luu Dinh Phuc, head of the Media Department of Vietnamâs Ministry of Information and Communication, cited especially a June 19 article saying that Vietnamâs president had called for a law allowing public protests, calling the story false, local media said.
Meanwhile, a May 26, 2017 Tuoi Tre story had drawn a reader comment suggesting an absence of superhighway development projects in southern Vietnamâs Mekong Delta was due to regional bias on the part of officials in the countryâs north, an opinion that officials said promoted disunity in the country.
Tuoi Tre was also handed a fine of 220 million Vietnamese dong ( U.S. $9,500 approx.), and only the newspaperâs online version was affected by the suspension, media reports said.
Speaking to RFAâs Vietnamese Service on Tuesday, a Tuoi Tre reader named Luu Thien described himself as saddened by the action taken against the paper.
âThe journalists and editors of Tuoi Tre have a high degree of social responsibility, and now they have been suspended. I find all this sad and quite frustrating,â he said, adding that in Vietnam, the right to freedom of speech is being increasingly controlled.
âThis is especially true with regard to information the ruling Communist party and government in Hanoi do not want people to see,â he said.
âPeople in my country have been isolated from outside information, the outside world, and even information coming from inside the country,â he said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a journalist working in Vietnam described the governmentâs action against Tuoi Tre as a landmark in the st ateâs restrictions on free speech, saying, âFor the press, this is an historical event, because Tuoi Tre is a symbol of the press in Saigon in particular, and more generally in Vietnam itself.â
'Not a major paper anymore'
Also speaking to RFA, one journalist said however that he had not read the paper âin a long time.â
âI have not read Tuoi Tre in a long time, because it keeps away from democracy events and demands for reform, and doesnât run news about protests or the prosecution of dissidents,â he said.
âFor me, itâs not a major newspaper anymore.â
â[Vietnamâs] traditional media are completely controlled,â international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in an April 25, 2018 report.
âBut citizen-journalists defend the freedom to inform with great courageâ"and the governmentâs response has been merciless.â
âBloggers used to be sentenced to two years in prison, but now those who blog about b anned subjects such as corruption or environmental disasters can expect a 15-year jail term,â according to the RSF report.
Reported by RFAâs Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.