Censored: journal suspended and editor dismissed

Nguyen Nhu Phong was stripped of his press card after interviewing a dissident writer

Nguyen Nhu Phong was stripped of his press card after interviewing a dissident writer

The Communist authorities have shut down a state run website and sacked its editor, showing the speed with which they’re prepared to suppress reporting of sensitive issues.

Readers of the website PetroTimes are being confronted with a one line message, saying that the journal has been suspended for three months on orders of the government.

The editor, Nguyen Nhu Phong, a former police colonel, was dismissed and stripped of his press card according to a statement from the information ministry.

It said he had committed “wrongdoing in press activities”, without giving further details.

Foreign press reports say the government appeared to intervene after the journal carried an interview with an exiled writer, Bui Thanh Hieu.

The item, published on September 30, later disappeared from the website.

Mr Hieu has been investigating the disappearance of a former senior Communist party official and executive of a state construction company, Trinh Xuan Thanh, who is wanted on charges of economic mismanagement.

Mr Thanh has left Vietnam and the authorities have requested help from Interpol to locate him.

Mr Thanh presided over significant losses while chairman of PetroVietnam Construction, a subsidiary of the state oil company.

There have been suggestions that Mr Thanh could be involved in a feud with other Communist party bosses.

The government remains acutely sensitive to any discussion of internal struggles inside the leadership.

Independent bloggers are routinely harassed and sometimes sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Official newspapers and journals are subjected to strict censorship.