Archive for the ‘free media’ Category

Dalai Lama: China Unfit To Be Superpower

December 5, 2008

China lacks the moral authority, including over the question of Tibet, to be a true superpower, the Dalai Lama said Thursday during a European tour that has angered Beijing.

After addressing the EU parliament in Brussels, the Tibetan spiritual leader said China “deserves to be a superpower” given its huge population and economic and military strength.

“Now one important factor is moral authority and that is lacking,” he told a press conference in Brussels.

AFP

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks to the press ... 
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks to the press at the EU Parliament in Brussels. China lacks the moral authority, including over the question of Tibet, to be a true superpower, the Dalai Lama said Thursday during a European tour that has angered Beijing.(AFP/John Thys)

“Because of its very poor record on human rights and religious freedom and freedom of expression and freedom of the press — too much censorship — the image of China in the field of moral authority is very, very poor,” he said.

“The sensible Chinese realize China should now pay more attention in this field in order to get more respect from the rest of the world,” the Nobel peace laureate said.

He cited the problems of Tibet and separatist factions in the southwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang as areas where such a moral authority should be displayed. He also named Hong Kong and reunification with Taiwan.

He said he continued to have confidence in the Chinese people while doubting the government wanted serious talks on Tibet’s future.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081204/wl_asia_a
fp/euchinatibetrights_081204183116

Vietnam court upholds blogger’s jail term

December 4, 2008

An appeals court in communist Vietnam on Thursday upheld a blogger’s two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for tax fraud in a case media watchdog groups have said was politically motivated.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court confirmed the September verdict and sentencing of Nguyen Hoang Hai, who uses the weblog name Dieu Cay and is a member of the online Free Vietnamese Journalists Club.

“After several hours of debate with his lawyers, the court upheld the first instance sentence of two-and-a-half years imprisonment for Nguyen Hoang Hai on the charge of tax fraud,” court official Phan Tanh told AFP.

AFP

Hai — who has taken part in anti-Beijing demonstrations about a sensitive sea territory dispute with China — was arrested in April, days before the Olympic torch passed through the southern city, formerly called Saigon.

“The authorities are trying to silence this blogger,” said media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement before the hearing.
.
“Dieu Cay should be freed at once,” said the Paris-based group which has called the weblog writer a “cyber-dissident.”

“We call on the foreign embassies in Vietnam to defend free expression by urging the Vietnamese government to release him.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081204/tc_afp/
vietnamjusticerightsinternet_081204171612

********************

By: Human Rights Watch

New York, September 12, 2008 – Human Rights Watch condemned a crackdown on democracy activists in Vietnam this week, coinciding with the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte for bilateral talks on security issues, economic ties, and human rights.

Human Rights Watch also called for the immediate release from prison of a prominent internet writer and activist, Nguyen Hoang Hai, known by his pen name Dieu Cay, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on September 10, 2008. Following Dieu Cay’s closed-door trial, police detained and interrogated at least a dozen other democracy activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders.

“Vietnam’s government is well-known for having zero tolerance for free expression,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The current wave of arrests of democracy activists is a thinly veiled effort by the government to silence independent bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Vietnam.”

Many of the activists detained this week, like Dieu Cay, have participated in protests against China’s claims to the disputed Spratly (Truong Sa) and Paracel (Hoang Sa) islands. It is thought that Vietnamese authorities are possibly trying to prevent demonstrations on the issue planned for September 14. The authorities may also be trying to thwart high-profile activists from joining mass prayer vigils that have been staged since mid-August in Hanoi by thousands of Catholics, who want the government to return confiscated church land in Thai Ha Parish.

Dieu Cay (which means “the Peasant Water Pipe”), 56, is known for his hard-hitting internet postings calling for greater democracy and human rights in Vietnam and his participation in protests in Vietnam against Chinese foreign policy. A former soldier with the People’s Army of Vietnam, Dieu Cay was one of the founding members of the Club of Free Journalists (Cau Lac Bo Nha Bao Tu Do) in 2006.

Anti-China Protests

Since December 2007, growing numbers of activists in Vietnam have joined rallies protesting China’s claims to the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, over which both China and Vietnam assert sovereignty. The protests were sparked by China’s November 2007 announcement that it was placing the islands under the administration of a new government district.

In January 2008, Dieu Cay and six other activists unfurled banners in front of the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City criticizing China for its claims to the disputed islands. On April 19, 2008, police arrested Dieu Cay in Dalat, a city in central Vietnam, shortly before the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Ho Chi Minh City, an event the Vietnamese authorities were determined to ensure was protest-free. Prior to his arrest, police had summoned Dieu Cay for interrogation at least 15 times.

On September 10, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Dieu Cay to two and half years in prison on charges of tax evasion on a rental property he owns. Dieu Cay’s lawyers argued that the renter, not Dieu Cay, was liable for back taxes owed on the property, because the rental contract provided for the renter to assume payment of all property taxes, which is allowable under Vietnamese law.

Police officers from the Internal Security and Counter-Espionage Departments (Cuc An Ninh Noi Chinh and Cuc Phan Gian) of the Ministry of Public Security in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Dieu Cay. This department is primarily responsible for monitoring and intervening in political cases. International press freedom organizations called the tax evasion charges a baseless pretext to punish Dieu Cay for his political activism.

“It’s bad enough that the Vietnamese government took an anti-China activist off the street only days before the Olympic torch passed through Ho Chi Minh City, but to imprison him now on questionable charges is a new low,” said Pearson.

Internet and media controls

Dieu Cay’s imprisonment fits a wider pattern of harassment and arrest by Vietnamese authorities of independent journalists, human rights activists, cyber dissidents, religious freedom advocates, and farmers protesting confiscation of their land. The Vietnamese government tightly controls the print and electronic media, as well as the internet in Vietnam, and is swift to prosecute dissidents and independent writers.

In May 2008, for example, police arrested two investigative reporters who had exposed a major corruption scandal in 2005. The reporters, Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper and Nguyen Van Hai of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, were charged with “abusing their positions and powers while performing official duties.” After their newspapers publicly challenged the arrests, on August 1, the government revoked the press accreditation of four journalists from the two papers, including both publications’ deputy editors.

Vietnam’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party, grant citizens the right to exercise freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“The Vietnamese government should take its own laws seriously and tolerate the expression of views it does not share,” Pearson said. “It’s time for Hanoi to cease harassing and arresting cyber dissidents, human rights defenders, and independent journalists.”

Background information

Activists arrested and detained by police on September 10 and 11 include:

* Land rights protesters Lu Thi Thu Duyen, Lu Thi Thu Trang, and Hoac Kim Hoa, who were detained and interrogated by police in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10 after they tried to attend Dieu Cay’s trial;
* Human rights defender Pham Van Troi, 35, an active member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, who was arrested in Hanoi just before midnight on September 10;
* Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, 58, a member of the executive board of the democracy movement known as Bloc 8406 (named after the April 8, 2006 date of its inception by Father Nguyen Van Ly) was arrested at his home in Haiphong just after midnight on September 11;
* Land rights activist Pham Thanh Nghien, who was arrested by 10 police officers at 11 a.m. on September 11 at her home in Haiphong and taken to Hanoi for questioning by police. In June 2008, municipal authorities in Hanoi rejected an application submitted by Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Pham Van Troi and Pham Thanh Nghien to conduct a demonstration protesting China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly islands;
* Student Ngo Quynh and poet Tran Duc Thach, who were arrested in Hanoi on September 10 as they were on their way to Thai Ha parish, where a mass rally by Catholics protesting government policy is taking place;
* Democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc, a Bloc 8406 member, who was arrested in a midnight raid by dozens of police at his home in Thai Binh province on September 11;
* Vu Hung, who was dismissed from his job as a high school physics teacher two months ago because of his contacts with Vietnamese democracy activists and who was arrested at his home in Ha Tay province at 8 p.m. on September 11; and
* Bloggers Uyen Vu and Quynh Vi, who were summoned to the police station in Ho Chi Minh City for interrogation on September 11.

In addition, on September 10, authorities in Hanoi charged four Catholic protesters from Thai Ha Parish who were arrested on August 28: Nguyen Thi Nhi, Nguyen Dac Hung, Nguyen Thi Viet, and Thai Thanh Hai.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Vietnam, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=vietna

Human Right Cesspool: China

November 29, 2008

I do not understand it… for years and years and years, we see the thugs in Beijing killing political dissidents, jailing people who think for themselves and generally thumbing their nose at any semblance of human rights– and we do nothing about it.  I, for one, am perfectly willing to stop buying cheap, defective PRC-manufactured crap.

The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is nothing but a thug-run dictatorship.  I don’t want to hear about the supposed “dictatorship of the proletariate” and I don’t want to hear about supposed “egalitarianism” because neither is desirable nor moral.  Thugs deserve a proper end–one at the point of a gun or a hangman’s noose.  That’s exactly what the teapot dictators in Beijing are.

I’m ashamed of my government’s willful lack of spine when dealing with the PRC.  Then again, I’m TOTALLY in favor of severing all ties with Beijing and moving the American embassy to the REAL China…  The Republic of China is the legitimate government of the Chinese people.

I’m horrified that when I tell people that their green tea was picked using slave labor, they just blank out and do not seem to care.  We, as Americans, are proud of our support of equal rights before the law and of freedom– and we’ve spend trillions of dollars trying to help other peoples gain or maintain freedom– yet we turn a blind eye to the attoricities of the PRC thugs in Beijing.

Read the rest:
http://eriksgoodwin.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/enough-is-enough/

Factory workers occupy an office after smashing equipment during ... 
Factory workers occupy an office after smashing equipment during a protest at the Kaida toy factory in Dongguan of east China’s Guangdong province Tuesday, November 25, 2008. More than 2,000 workers of the Kaida toy factory in Dongguan smashed police vehicles and company offices on Tuesday night in a labor dispute.(AP Photo/Color China Photo)

Will Liberals, Democrats Hurt Free Media, Free Speech?

November 16, 2008

Now that the election is over, it is time to evaluate what the American public can expect from the newly elected Congress and the administration of President-elect Barack Obama.  

There are several major issues, some mentioned before in this column, which the liberal leadership may seek to enact into law. Moderate Democrats and Republicans as well as conservatives must resist them for the greater good of the country.

One straightforward issue the new administration will certainly push hard is the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Liberal radio personalities have been unable to make headway on commercial radio, so the only way for them to regain access to the airwaves is to re-impose this outdated and obsolete rule. The doctrine would require equal air time for differing political opinions broadcast over the public’s airwaves.

Paul Weyrich
The Washington Times
Sunday, November 16, 2008

The result of the proposed law, if enacted, would be to silence talk radio, a much hoped for liberal aim…

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/16/the-democrats-imminent-agenda/

Reporter’s suit challenges China’s media controls

November 4, 2008

A Chinese reporter whose weekly publication was closed for three months after she wrote an article that criticized one of China‘s largest banks has sued the government, her lawyer said Tuesday.

In a rare challenge to Communist Party control over Chinese media, journalist Cui Fan filed a lawsuit last Wednesday charging that authorities did not have the right to shut down the China Business Post for publishing her article that alleged the Agricultural Bank of China had committed forgery.

By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

Cui’s article said a branch of the bank in Hunan province had forged official seals in order to dispose of 4.6 billion yuan ($672 million) in bad assets.

“I brought the lawsuit because what happened is unfair both to me and my colleagues,” Cui, 31, said in a telephone interview Monday from her home in Beijing.

The China Business Post was ordered closed on Sept. 8 for three months by the Bureau of Press and Publications in Inner Mongolia where it is registered. The newspaper, which is state-owned but managed by a private company, sells about 400,000 copies nationwide.

Cui was suing on grounds that under China’s press regulations, the government can legally stop distribution of a particular issue of a newspaper but that authority does not extend to suspending a publication for three months, according to Cui’s attorney, Zhou Ze.

“This goes to show that people in the media are increasingly intolerant of management of press and publications that does not follow the existing laws,” Zhou said in an e-mail. He said he was not comfortable talking about the case over the phone.

“No one before has questioned the administrative legality of the press and publications management,” Zhou said.

Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media watchdog, said it had not heard of a similar lawsuit by a Chinese newspaper before, spokesman Vincent Brossel said in an e-mail.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081104/ap_on_bi_ge/as_
china_newspaper_lawsuit_5

Washington Times Excluded From Obama Campaign Aircraft: And Responds

November 1, 2008

Editorial
The Washington Times
November 1, 2008
.
Reporter Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times will be kicked off of Barack Obama‘s campaign plane starting Nov. 2, making it much more difficult to cover the candidate during the critical final days of the election. The Obama campaign insists that politics had nothing to do with it. We note that all three newspapers that had reporters booted from the plane — The Times, the New York Post and the Dallas Morning News — endorsed John McCain. An Obama spokesman insists that it is just a coincidence.

Aides to Mr. Obama told us Friday that the decision was made in part in order to accommodate his hometown newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, which have not traveled with the candidate very frequently in the past. They also claim that the decision to kick The Washington Times off the Obama plane could not have possibly been due to this newspaper’s endorsement, which was published Tuesday. The Obama campaign insists that it notified Miss Bellantoni on Oct. 25 that it might not have room for her on the plane. Miss Bellantoni protested. Later that day she was told that she could stay on the plane until Friday night. Starting Monday, Miss Bellantoni sought an update about her status each day until Thursday. That afternoon, while covering an Obama rally in Florida, she learned that effective Nov. 2, she would no longer be traveling on Mr. Obama’s campaign plane.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. ... 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. boards his campaign aircraft at the airport in Columbia, Mo., Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Upon learning of that decision, John Solomon, executive editor of The Washington Times, protested the decision to David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager. The decision “unfairly deprives her and this newspaper of the opportunity to cover the final 72 hours of a campaign that she has reported on with distinction from the beginning,” Mr. Solomon wrote. “Christina has traveled routinely with the Obama campaign from the start, pulled many shifts as the campaign pool reporter and been cited across the country for stories that were fair, balanced and insightful.” He also noted that The Times’ vast online readership places it in the Top 20 news sites in the United States. Moreover, Mr. Obama himself has recognized the importance of this newspaper’s work, citing two prominent examples: In June, Mr. Obama wrote a letter citing an investigative project by The Washington Times that highlighted government mistreatment of veterans. In his August acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama prominently mentioned this newspaper’s interview with former Sen. Phil Gramm, in which he referred to a “mental recession” and a “nation of whiners.” More than a dozen other Democratic speakers also cited that interview, “clearly demonstrating the far-reaching relevance and impact of our news coverage,” Mr. Solomon wrote in an e-mail.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Solomon received a reply from from Anita Dunn, senior adviser and chief communications officer with the Obama campaign, telling him that that the demand for seats on the plane far exceeded supply, and “for logistical reasons, we made the decision not to add a second plane.” Added Mrs. Dunn: “We have a huge amount of respect for the reporting of Christina Bellantoni and this decision is by no means a reflection on her.” In an interview Friday with The Times, Jen Psaki, press spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, reiterated these points and claimed the decision could not have been retaliation for The Times endorsement of Mr. McCain because Miss Bellantoni was notified last Saturday that she might not be able to stay on the plane beyond Oct. 31. Sure.

This argument, however, collapses upon closer examination. For one thing, there is no getting around the fact that all three newspapers kicked off the plane just happened to endorse Mr. McCain. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s supporters have been furious with The Times when it publishes stories that are not favorable to their candidate. One was an Oct. 10 report by Barbara Slavin of The Times about Mr. Obama’s efforts to delay signing an agreement with the United States on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Another was a piece by reporter Joseph Curl pointing to Mr. McCain’s role in mobilizing support for the Iraq troop surge, which Mr. Obama opposed. Viewed in this context, the Obama campaign’s decision to remove Miss Bellantoni smacks of being the latest effort by Mr. Obama and his supporters to retaliate against reporters that ask tough questions. After Barbara West, a reporter on WFTV-TV in Orlando, had the temerity to ask some tough questions to Joe Biden, the Obama campaign cancelled an interview with Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill. Obama supporters even called for Miss West’s ouster. After a reporter for KYW-TV in Philadelphia pressed Mr. Biden too forcefully on some matters, the Obama campaign said it would grant no more interviews to the station. When WGN Radio in Chicago announced it would interview Stanley Kurtz, author of several unflattering investigative pieces about Mr. Obama, supporters of the candidate flooded the station with telephone calls and e-mails demanding that Mr. Kurtz not be put on the air. It is a disturbing pattern. If this is how Mr. Obama acts as a candidate, how would he treat the press as president?

Miss Bellantoni doesn’t deserve this shabby treatment and neither does The Times. It would be wiser to resist the impulse to punish those who ask hard questions and wiser still to show more respect for the free exercise of the press.

How Obama’s Ideas Resemble Communist China Policy

October 31, 2008

As China’s Communist-socialist economy moves closer toward capitalism, Senator Barack Obama’s ideas on spreading the wealth from richer toward poorer people sounds remarkably like the older version of China’s socialism.

And just as China tightly controls its state media, the campaign of Barack Obama has now expelled two of the nation’s leading conservative newspapers from the Obama campaign aircraft.

The Washington Times and the New York Post have been told their Obama campaign reporters are no longer welcome on the Obama campaign plane.  This follows an incident which occurred between Obama Vice Presidential running mate and  WFTV’s Barbara West, an Orland anchorwoman.

After Ms. West asked provacative questions of Senator Biden, the TV station was told it would no longer have access to any information from the Obama campaign.

Then we have voter fraud.  In China, the guy picked by the ruling Chinese communist  party wins every ‘election”…. no mater how the vote goes.  Ever hear of ACORN?

But Mr. Obama is unlike China in this regard: to China, unemployment is the most dangerous of evils.

Have you heard Obama talking a lot about jobs?  No…..

Related:
Obama’s Staff Expells Conservative Newpaper Reporters

China’s Worst Nightmare: Unemployment

If Obama Wins; Dems are Set To Muzzle the Right

October 20, 2008

By Brian C. Anderson
New York Post
October 20, 2008

SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine – and to diminish conservatives’ influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It’s doubtful.

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there’s all the lawyers you’d have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged – like entertainment or sports coverage?

Read the rest:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/10202008/postopinion/oped
columnists/dems_get_set_to_muzzle_the_right_134399.htm

Vietnam Convicts, Imprisons “Whisle Blowing” Reporter Who Found Government Corruption

October 15, 2008

by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam jailed a reporter for two years Wednesday for his coverage of state corruption in a court case that has sent a chill through the communist country‘s media industry.

Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at ... 
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at Hanoi’s people court. Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal and also jailed his police source for one year.(AFP)

The Hanoi court also imprisoned for one year a senior police officer who had provided information on the graft scandal to the media, but it allowed a police general and a second journalist to walk free.

The jailed reporter, Nguyen Viet Chien, almost three years ago helped pry open the graft case, which centred on a transport ministry unit whose officials had squandered foreign aid on gambling and high living.

The revelations led to a series of arrests and moved anti-corruption to the centre of government policy, while Vietnam earned international plaudits for allowing its state-controlled media unprecedented freedoms.

Then, in May of this year, police arrested two of the journalists who led the coverage on the explosive case — Chien of the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, and Nguyen Van Hai of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) daily.

The deputy editors of the two popular papers were replaced and the Communist Party‘s ideology committee has since revoked the press credentials of several more journalists who had jumped to their colleagues’ defence.

On Wednesday, the Hanoi People’s Court found both journalists guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state.”

Chien, a 56-year-old award winning journalist who maintained his innocence throughout the two-day trial, was sentenced to two years in prison, a term that was backdated to the day of his arrest.

Hai, 33, who admitted to some unintended errors in his reporting and at one stage during the hearings broke down in tears, received a more lenient two-year non-custodial term and was allowed to walk free.

The court also convicted the two senior police officers who had given information to the press during the 2005-2006 investigation into the emerging graft scandal in the so-called Project Management Unit (PMU) 18.

Retired police General Pham Xuan Quac, 62, who headed the investigation, received only an official warning, but Lieutenant Colonel Dinh Van Huynh, 50, was sentenced to one year’s jail, also including time served.

Prosecutors argued that the journalists’ reports contained errors and bias and had tarnished the image of officials, party cadres, Vietnam and its leadership, ahead of a five-yearly party congress in early 2006.

The judge, in sentencing, reiterated the prosecution case that “hostile forces, reactionaries and political opportunists” had taken advantage of the scandal to attack Vietnam’s state and party leadership while “stirring up activities to disturb security and order” ahead of the party meeting.

Chien said that until his arrest he had never received a reprimand, defamation suit or complaint from a reader.

“When PMU 18 was discovered, the whole political system of this country was focused on the issue,” he added.

The scandal led to the 2006 resignation of then transport minister Dao Dinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, while eight PMU 18 officials were later jailed for illegal gambling and corruption.

The deputy minister has since been freed and cleared of all charges.

Foreign diplomats and correspondents were allowed to follow the two-day court proceedings via closed-circuit television, while many more Vietnamese journalists waited on the street outside the court house.

Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has labelled the trial the state’s “revenge” against two “daring journalists who revealed embarrassing cases and brought greater freedom to the Vietnamese press.”

“It is an insult to justice,” RSF said. “The trial is at the epicentre of an earthquake that has destroyed the still fragile basis of a more independent press wanting to play its role of challenging established authority.”

Vietnam journalists on trial for exposing state corruption

October 14, 2008

by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam on Tuesday put on trial two reporters who helped expose state corruption, in a case seen as a test on the limits of media freedom in the communist country.

A man sits reading a newspaper in downtown Hanoi on October ... 
A man sits reading a newspaper in downtown Hanoi on October 3. Vietnam on Tuesday put on trial two reporters who helped expose state corruption in a case seen as a test of media freedoms in the communist country.(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)

The two newspaper journalists each face up to seven years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” in the Hanoi People’s Court hearing.

They helped expose a major graft scandal in a transport ministry unit, known as PMU 18, where officials pilfered development funds meant for roads and bridges and bet much of it on European football.

The aggressive reporting in a country where all media, and the courts, remain under the control of the one-party state was praised by foreign observers and spurred state promises of a major anti-corruption drive.

The scandal led to the resignation in 2006 of then transport minister Dao Dinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, while eight PMU 18 officials were jailed last year for illegal gambling and corruption.

The case, however, took an unexpected turn when Tien was freed from prison last October and cleared of all charges in March.

In May police arrested the two journalists — Nguyen Van Hai, 33, of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) daily, and Nguyen Viet Chien, 56, of the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper — initially accusing them of “abuse of power.”

On trial with them are two senior police officers accused of feeding them information….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081014/wl_asia_afp/vietnam
justicemediacorruption_081014072610