On February 1, 2019, the Domestic Security Bureau of Ben Tre Province interviewed Tran Ngoc Phuc, a 21-year-old student of Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City at their station.
Dong Khoi online newspaper, a publication of the VCP’s Provincial Committee in Ben Tre, published the story on the same day.
According to the article, the police accused Phuc, a resident of Tan Phu Commune, Chau Thanh District, Ben Tre Province, of using his personal account to propagandizing against the Vietnamese Communist Party and the State.
Namely, Phuc was using Facebook under the name “Ngoc Phuc” to join several “politically hostile” groups. Among them, was “The South of Vietnam” (Miền Nam Việt Nam), Fanclub of Saigon Capital (Đô thành Sài Gòn Fanclub), and “Liking BBC Vietnamese” (Thích BBC Vietnamese).
Phuc also allegedly admitted to the police that he was indeed the Facebooker Ngoc Phuc and that he had posted, shared, and commented on specific contents.
The police had deemed these contents as materials which “propagandized, sabotaged the thoughts, distorted the direction, objectives, and policy of the VCP, the laws of the State and distorted (the image of) the leader Ho Chi Minh.”
Formal charges against Phuc had not been filed, but the police indicated that they would continue to build the case and follow the regular legal procedures in this case.
During the first month since the new Cybersecurity Law took effect in Vietnam on January 1, 2019, there were several reports that the police had questioned and detained some Facebookers.
Rights groups, online campaigners, bloggers, activists, and dissidents continuously criticize the new law for further curtailing freedom of speech and shrinking the online civic space in Vietnam.
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