Charges dropped against blogger

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Police from the Ministry of Public Security have suspended investigations into a popular blogger accused of defaming a ministry senior official and his family.

Charges will be dropped against Le Nguyen Huong Tra, 33, who is also known as Co Gai Do Long on her blog, according to the Supreme People's Procuracy, the country's highest prosecution agency.

The prosecutors said the decision was made given Tra's remorse and the fact that the crime was not considered serious.

The popular blogger was accused of "abusing democratic freedoms" pursuant to Article 258 of the Vietnamese criminal code.

Tra, a freelance reporter, got bail last January after being arrested October 23, 2010 on charges of defamation after describing a senior official's son as a womanizer.

According to the police, in a blog post dated October 21, 2010, Tra wrote that Nguyen Khanh Trong, a police officer and son of Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyen Khanh Toan, had been romantically linked to several beauty queens and celebrities.

The post also contained a link to a copy of a letter of complaint from a ministry official on another Web site, which alleged that Trong was a drug addict, and denounced Toan for using his influence to secure a job for his son. 

She raised questions about whether or not beauty queens and artists were "protected" because they were his son's lovers.

According to investigators, Tra's entry was baseless and false information negatively affected the prestige and dignity of the individuals and state agencies she named.

On October 31, 2010, Tra's mother and husband told Tuoi Tre newspaper they had sent a letter of apology to Toan's family asking for forgiveness. Meanwhile, Toan refused to comment and said he would let the relevant agencies deal with the issue according to Vietnamese law, the paper said.

Tra was released on bail after she admitted defamation.

In 2007, Tra was taken to court by Phuong Thanh, a famous pop singer, for posting entries with allegedly falsified information about her live show. However, a Ho Chi Minh City court suspended the case after two trials due to procedural problems.

Tra is a freelance reporter of several Ho Chi Minh City-based newspapers. Her blog was one of the most viewed blogs in Vietnam and had received over 23 million page views.

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