Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Vietnam's latest clampdown on media takes effect

AFP , HANOI

Vietnam stepped up control of the press yesterday with new fines for publishing information that authorities consider a state, party, military or economic secret.

The country was also attempting to restrict Internet access by threatening to fine and shutdown providers who allow their users to log onto "harmful" Web sites.

The new measures, which came into force yesterday, are contained in a wide-ranging decree passed last month by the office of former prime minister Phan Van Khai.

Under the decree, reporters face fines for publishing or broadcasting "harmful" information, defaming national heroes and denying "revolutionary achievements."

State-controlled media outlets could be fined up to to 70 million dongs (US$4,375) for breaching the decree which also bans publication of news stories with anonymous sources.

The decree says reporters must submit stories to the people they have interviewed for approval before publication. It also bans "dissemination of reactionary ideology."

The Administrative Sanctions on Cultural and Information Activities, was passed on June 6 and incoming premier Nguyen Tan Dung will be responsible for its implementation.

The move comes after a state-controlled but increasingly active media published scores of stories on a major graft scandal that has rocked the communist regime in recent months.

Vietnamese reporters revealed that officials in the Transport Ministry's project management unit embezzled millions of dollars in funds, much of it foreign aid, sparking anger against the communist party and the government.

Internet providers face heavy fines, confiscation of their computers and closure of their Internet accounts for breaching the new rules. The government regularly announces its intent to control use of the Internet.

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