HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — One of the better known bloggers in Vietnam has been arrested for posting criticism of the communist government, the latest case in an intensified crackdown against dissent in the one-party, authoritarian state.
Police arrested Pham Viet Dao, 61, at his home in Hanoi on Thursday for the offense of "abusing democratic freedoms," the Ministry of Public Security said on its website. That violation of Article 258 of the Penal Code carries up to seven years in prison.
The ministry's statement said his arrest and searches of his home were conducted in accordance with the law.
Dao, a former government official and member of Vietnam Writers Association, had written blog posts critical of Vietnamese leaders.
In televised testimony to the lawmaking National Assembly, a government minister said the Internet has brought huge benefits to Vietnam since it was introduced there in 1997, but he warned of the negative impact of online dissent.
"Recently, opportunist elements in the country and the overseas hostile forces have abused the Internet to spread information that sabotaged the country, distorted the policy of our Party and state," Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son said Thursday.
Son said Vietnam has 31 million Internet users, some 73 percent of them younger than 35. Vietnam's population is 90 million.
Another well-known blogger was arrested last month for the same charges as Dao.
In the recent intensified crackdown, at least 38 activists have been imprisoned on charges of violating national security laws, which critics say are vaguely regulated to silence peaceful expression.
The government says no one has been jailed for peacefully expressing their views, only those who break the law.
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