Updated: A blow to Vietnam's press freedom


A veteran 50-year-old Vietnamese reporter is dead after attackers burst into his Hanoi home and set his body on fire as he slept.

The killers, who remain free, are believed to have sought revenge for reporter Le Hoang Hung's investigations into corruption and smuggling rings. The journalist had previously received text message threats.

As if the state of reporting in Vietnam isn't bad enough.

Vietnam's media is entirely state controlled and it shows. As Southeast Asia correspondent, I start the day by skimming through Thai- and English-language media outlets throughout the region. On most days, Vietnam is only churning out inoffensive cultural pieces or business-driven news. Freedom House, which annually evaluates various nations' press freedom, ranks Vietnam as "not free."

If you want to play along at home, try punching "Vietnam" into Google News or just click here. You'll pick up almost as many obits for Vietnam War veterans as you will news stories out of this major Asian nation of 90 million people.

Vietnam already has enough issues with journalists arrested for pieces examining its communist party. It doesn't need to compound the problem with a reporter's savage killing.

The authorities should do everything they can to track down Le Hoang Hung's killers to show his colleagues that Vietnamese journalists aren't fair game for murder.

UPDATE: According to Vietnamese police, the journalist's colleagues are mistaken in blaming hitmen. Le Hoang Hung's wife has confessed to the killing, cops told the Associated Press.