Vietnamese Facebook User Fined for ‘Fake News’ as Criticism Grows of Government’s Handling of Pandemic

Police in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City have fined a local Facebook user for saying that local government has neglected city residents and let them go hungry amid lockdowns aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19, sources said.

Nguyen Thuy Duong was fined VND 5 million (around $210) on Thursday after saying in a July 22 posting that lockdown measures enforced by authorities in the Binh Truong ward of Thu Duc City, an area under Ho Chi Minh City’s jurisdiction, had left residents unable to receive relief packages.

State media said the fine was imposed by Ho Chi Minh City police and the city’s Department of Information and Communications for violations of Government Decree 15, governing the use of postal services, telecommunications, and other information technologies.

Challenging her fine on Thursday, Duong said in a statement online that authorities told her in a meeting by phone that they had produced four witnesses who said people living in the area had not been left to starve.

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RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney