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Vietnam blogger held over criticism

Vietnamese police have arrested one of the country's best-known bloggers for posting criticism of the Communist government, the latest move in a crackdown against dissent in the one-party state.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that police arrested Truong Duy Nhat, 49, at his home in central Danang City on Sunday.

He was flown with a police escort to the capital Hanoi for an investigation, according to the newspaper, and faces accusations of violating Article 258 of the Penal Code for "abusing democratic freedoms".

If convicted, Mr Nhat faces up to seven years in prison.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the Vietnamese government to "immediately and unconditionally" release Mr Nhat.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said Article 258 was "a legal outrage" that serves the interests of the ruling Communist Party.

Mr Nhat was a reporter at a state-run newspaper before quitting more than two years ago to focus on his blog. His posts have often criticised the government, including one which called for the prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung to resign.

He said in 2010 that he was quitting as a reporter "to write about things that I want to write".

At least 38 activists have been convicted and imprisoned on charges of violating national security laws, which critics say were vaguely regulated to silence peaceful expression.

The government said no-one has been jailed for peacefully expressing their views - only those who break the law.

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