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May 1, 2017

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Prominent blogger arrested in Vietnam: police

HANOI--A prominent blogger has been arrested in Vietnam accused of disseminating anti-state articles in the communist country's latest crackdown on online dissent, police said Tuesday.

Nguyen Huu Vinh, 57, more commonly known as Anh Ba Sam, was arrested in Hanoi on Monday for posting articles "with bad content and incorrect information that reduces prestige and trust in state agencies," the ministry of public security said in a statement.

Police also arrested Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, 33, who was accused of the same offense, the statement added, without giving details of her alleged role.

Vietnam bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run. Lawyers, bloggers and activists are regularly subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Vietnam has detained at least 34 bloggers. Only China has put more bloggers behind bars.

Vinh, a former policeman, founded the well known political and social blog "Ba Sam" in 2007 — initially to store articles for his own reference.

The blog then became a news aggregator with links to major stories in state-run newspapers as well as blog posts from activists.

The blog has frequently appeared under different web addresses to avoid constant hacking attacks.

It was not clear if Vinh still ran the blog at the time of his arrest on Monday.

Together with some other blogs, Ba Sam has also been a rallying point for Vietnamese demonstrators staging anti-China protests, mostly in Hanoi, in a longstanding dispute over sovereignty of the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups.

In April, authorities freed three well known dissidents including French trained Cu Huy Ha Vu and Nguyen Tien Trung, who were serving long jail terms for similar anti-state charges.

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