Friday, 20 January 2012

Vietnam: Journalist arrested for bribing police

A campaigning anti-corruption reporter, Nguyen Van Khuyen, of well-respected southern newspaper Tuoi Tre News, was taken into custody by police in mid-January for bribing a police officer. He paid traffic police officer Huynh Minh Duc around $715 for the return of a confiscated motorcycle but was in fact 'assuming the identity' of a traffic offender in order to publish an excoriating report on police corruption in Vietnam.

'He should not be charged with bribery because of what he did in the course of an undercover investigation,' Reporters Without Borders said in a press release. 'He was acting as a reporter, not for personal gain.' The organisation estimates that he may be in prison for four months while authorities investigate. The police officer was suspended after the story ran but the journalist was still suspended from his paper in early December, apparently at the behest of the police.

Police corruption is a hot topic in Vietnam and the traffic police, who regularly threaten citizens and solicit bribes, are widely hated, to the point at which recent camera phone footage of a dying traffic police officer earned praise on various video sites.

Exposure of corruption by the press is sometimes encouraged by the government as it understands the anger it generates. Most targets are not main players and most journalists know who they can and cannot attack.

For more news and expert analysis about Vietnam, please see Vietnam Focus.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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