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Authorities arrest young pro-democracy blogger

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of pro-democracy blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, one of the leaders of the Association of Young Vietnamese for Democracy. A graduate of an engineering school in the French city of Rennes, Nguyen Tien Trung returned to Vietnam to pursue a commitment to free expression.

"While the world's eyes are turned to Iran and Xinjiang, the Vietnamese are arresting pro-democracy activists one by one, especially those who try to promote the cause of free speech through their writing," Reporters Without Borders said. "This systematic crackdown on dissidents is setting back the cause of democracy in Vietnam by 10 years. We urge the democratic countries to react and to try to stop this reversal."

Nguyen Tien Trung's arrest brings the number of journalists and bloggers held in Vietnam to at least 11.

An active member of the Vietnam Democracy Party (which was revived in 2006 after being disbanded for 20 years), Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested on 7 July 2009, just a few hours after being expelled from the army for refusing to take an oath. The policemen who took him away from his home in Ho Chi Minh City were led by the same officer who arrested dissident lawyer Le Cong Dinh in June.

Nguyen Tien Trung, 25, could be charged under article 88 of the criminal code, although relatives and friends insisted to Reporters Without Borders that he has never been involved in any anti-Vietnamese activity.

An active blogger ( ) until he began his military service, Nguyen Tien Trung graduated from the INSA engineering school in Rennes in 2007. He helped create the Association of Young Vietnamese for Democracy and joined the Vietnam Democracy Party, one of his friends told Reporters Without Borders.

Nguyen Tien Trung's arrest is thought to be linked to the 13 June arrest of Le Cong Dinh, a lawyer and author of many pro-democracy articles, who is being held incommunicado on a charge of plotting to overthrow the government and has been expelled by the Ho Chi Minh City bar association.

Another Vietnam Democracy Party member, Tran Anh Kim, has also been arrested on a charge of spreading anti-government propaganda.

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