Vietnam forces anti-corruption news site offline

Hanoi – The website of an outspoken Vietnamese newspaper has had its license revoked after publishing articles that “undermine freedom and democratic rights”, authorities said on Monday, as part of a a growing crackdown on freedom of the press in the communist country..

The Nguoi Cao Tuoi newspaper – which means “old people” in Vietnamese – must shut down its website and fire its editor, the information and communications ministry said in an online statement..

The newspaper’s website license and editor-in-chief Kim Quoc Hoa’s press card have been revoked, the statement added..

The website had been taken offline on Monday afternoon. The print edition of the newspaper will apparently still be allowed to publish.

All newspapers and TV stations in authoritarian Vietnam are state-controlled, but individual publications can decide how far to go – or not – against the country’s draconian censorship laws..

The Nguoi Cao Tuoi newspaper was run by the Vietnam Elderly Association, linked to the Communist Party, and targeted older readers..

In recent years, the publication had become a vocal critic of government corruption, uncovering several key stories implicating senior officials in corruption scandals..

Other public newspapers had followed the corruption scandals perpetrated by the Nguoi Cao Tuoi.

The publication published articles that showed “signs of leaking state secrets”, the Ministry of Information and Communications said in the statement, explaining its decision..

The department did not say exactly which stories it objected to, but said a filing had been sent to police asking for an investigation into 11 articles that may have breached the law..

Vietnam’s Communist Party, which has ruled the unified country since 1975, is sensitive to any public criticism of its regime.

The majority of state-run newspapers offer a diet of bland, uncontroversial stories, and many citizens prefer to get their news online from blogs or social media, which contain less propaganda..

The one-party state is regularly denounced by rights groups and Western governments for its intransigent stance on all issues concerning press freedom or human rights..