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Vietnam journalists arrested after reporting on corruption scandal

[JURIST] Two Vietnamese journalists, Nguyen Van Hai of Tuoi Tre news agency [media website, in Vietnamese] and Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nien news agency [media website], were arrested Monday by Vietnamese authorities and charged with abuse of power in connection with their uncovering of the so-called PMU 18 corruption scandal [JURIST report; Tuoi Tre news archive, in Vietnamese]. Project Management Unit 18 is a Vietnamese agency responsible for the construction of roads and bridges and is a recipient of aid from the World Bank and other countries. Vietnamese authorities also searched the homes of the two journalists, as well as the offices of Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien. Citing "informal sources," Thanh Nien reported that the two would be held in custody for at least four months. Reuters has more.

Nguyen Van Hai and Nguyen Viet Chien reported on illegal gambling and corruption [JURIST news archive] within Project Management Unit (PMU) 18, and their work triggered an investigation that led to the Hanoi People's Court's August 2007 convictions [JURIST report] of former Vietnamese government officials. The World Bank said in May 2007 that it found no evidence of fraud or corruption [press release] after conducting an independent review of PMU 18, although it noted shortcomings in transparency and accounting structures.

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