Nguyen Van Hai

SHORT INFO

Name: Điếu cày / Nguyen Van Hai / Nguyen Hoang Hai
Nationality: Vietnam
Arrested: since 19 or 21 Apr 08
Blog: Điếu cày’s Blog (Vietnamese)
Global Voices Advocacy: Blogger Dieu Cay arrested
Committee to Protect Bloggers: Nguyen Van Hai

BIOGRAPHY

Nguyen Van Hai is a Vietnamese blogger and citizen journalist under the name Điếu cày. On his blog, Hai had featured articles on protests against the torch in other cities around the world, and others critical of China’s policies in Tibet and the Spratlys and opposing the torch’s relay through Vietnam.

He is a member of a group of bloggers known as the Union of Independent Journalists. Before the Olympic torch made its way through Ho Chi Minh City on the way to Beijing, Nguyen led efforts to organize local bloggers ((CLBNBTD)) to follow the torch’s passing. Other members of the group had called for protests along the torch’s route when it is carried through Ho Chi Minh City. Members of the group were also involved in organising demonstrations in December and January against Chinese moves to assert sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which Vietnam also claims.

On April 21, 2008, the blogger was arrested on charges of tax evasion. By a Vietnamese newspaper Vietnam Law it was reported police had searched his house Monday and found evidence that he and his ex-wife had understated their monthly rent to avoid paying the full value-added tax. Vietnamese democracy activists, who requested anonymity, said that Hai had actually been detained on Monday in the resort town of Dalat, 300 kilometres north-west of Ho Chi Minh City, and escorted back to Ho Chi Minh City to facilitate the search of his house. ((Bangkok Post » Vietnam arrests blogger for reporting torch protest))

Some are saying that Nguyen’s arrest came as Chinese authorities had been putting pressure on their Vietnamese counterparts to prevent demonstrations during the torch relay. According to the Reporters without Borders, Nguyen was being closely watched by police, who had threatened to let Chinese agents kill him after participating in demonstrations against Chinese policy. ((Reporters without Borders » Call for release of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience before Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City))

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