Vietnam blocked internet blogs critical of the government while writers were detained and persecuted, underlining the Communist Party’s heavy handed crackdown on freedom of speech.

Back in 2009, Vietnam pledged to promote the growth of Internet usage during a foreign ministry news conference. But government officials fear that free speech over the internet could do harm, saying “Some people disseminate information that disrupts the state’s public security, ostensibly as personal opinions spelled out in blogs,” adding that “Illegal acts will be punished rigorously”.

Bloggers were tried in court for posting comments critical to the Communist government. Just last month, Le Thanh Tung, a former military officer, was sentenced to five years in prison over allegedly disseminating propaganda through his blog. Tung had been calling for democracy and political freedoms. Nguyen Xuan Dien, a writer of a popular blog, told the Asahi Shimbun that he had been fined by Hanoi’s communications authorities over a blog content where he opposed the import of nuclear reactors from Japan. Dien claimed that officials lashed out “moral intimidation and violent attitudes” towards him.