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Popular woman blogger arrested over blog entry about senior party official

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of Le Nguyen Huong Tra, well known in the Vietnamese blogosphere by the blog name of Co Gai Do Long. She was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Binh district on 23 October 2010 for allegedly defaming a senior Communist Party official and his family.

The press freedom organisation calls for her immediate release and voices concern about an increase in arrests of bloggers in recent weeks. "The government should realise that, regardless of what it does, people will continue to criticise the authorities online," the organisation said. "This is a battle that the government has already lost."

The author of one of the most popular blogs among Vietnamese Internet users, Tra writes about sensitive political issues with humour.

She alleged in a blog entry on 14 October that deputy public security minister Nguyen Khanh Toan had granted favours to a beauty queen and various performers who were the mistresses of his son, Nguyen Trong Khanh, a "womanizer" and consumer of drugs.

She had already accused the deputy minister in a previous entry of finding a political job for his son. The previous entry, which also accused the son of drug-taking, was later erased from the blog but by then it had been reposted on other sites.

If convicted, Tra could be facing up to seven years in prison.

With a total of 17 cyber-dissidents currently detained, Vietnam is the world's second biggest prison for netizens, after China. It is ranked 165th out of 178 countries in the press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders released on 20 October.
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