HANOI, VIETNAM — A Vietnamese journalist working for a state-run newspaper has been fired and threatened with prosecution after criticizing a Communist Party leader on his personal website.
Nguyen Dac Kien was let go by the official Family and Society newspaper on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after writing a blog post that took issue with a speech by General-Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
In the nationally televised speech Monday, the general-secretary condemned calls for changes in an article in the constitution that enshrines the leadership of the Communist Party.
Trong said those who call for pluralism, a multi-party system and separation of power represent a "deterioration" of Vietnamese society.”
Kien's blog post, which went viral [spread rapidly on the Internet], said the leader had "no right" to address the people of Vietnam like this, saying state corruption was the real problem with Vietnam. He said later he was compelled to speak out.
Kien said he felt moved to write the blog post because he does not agree with Trong’s words. He said the secretary's speech does not represent his views or the views of many others.
The paper, where Kien had worked since 2008, quickly put out a statement saying the reporter had "violated the operating rules" of the publication and had been fired. It warned he will be "held accountable before the law for his words and behavior."
Kien, who is married and has a small child, said he had done nothing wrong, but that he is not surprised by the firing. He said he will continue fighting for democracy in Vietnam and is prepared to face the ramifications of writing the article.
Vietnam is a one-party Communist state that strictly forbids criticism of its leaders. It increasingly has jailed political dissidents and activists who question the party's authority.
In recent years, international media watchdog groups have criticized Vietnam for cracking down on journalists, bloggers and online activists.