Investigative reporter Hoang Khuong was jailed by Vietnamese authorities today for...doing his job?
That's what Khuong told the court today, arguing that the massive bribe he paid, for which he stood accused, was part of undercover reporting work, according to the Associated Press. Maybe it wasn't the most journalistically ethical thing to do, he said, but wasn't criminal.
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Khuong's articles on police corruption reportedly sparked public outrage in the communist country. In what AP called a "rare, albeit modest, show of public defiance," Khuong insisted he "had honest motives in detecting and fighting corruption in line with party and state policies."
Vietnam's hardline authorities, however, weren't having any of it, reported Dat Viet.
A court today handed Khuong a four-year jail sentence, which sees him join five journalists and 19 bloggers currently in prison, the only difference being the authorities didn't even bother to charge them (more on that from Reporters without Borders).
By the way, the court banned Khuong's paper from presenting evidence at the two-day trial, according to AP.
The 37-year-old was arrested on charges of paying the equivalent of $710 to a police officer in order to get a confiscated motorbike bike back last summer, said AP, and has been held since February. The officer in question was also given a five-year sentence today.
Press freedom in Vietnam is a rather sorry affair. Authorities regularly crack down on journalists and closely monitor the media narrative, while reporters and human rights activists are frequently subject to police brutality and torture, according to Human Rights Watch.