Detained reporter's wife waits for his release

TN News

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Nguyen Hoang Anh has given birth to her second child even as her husband Hoang Khuong, a journalist working for Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, is in police custody for investigation into alleged bribery.

She is waiting for him to be released to give the child a name. "One will carry a name for life. We must wait for him to be freed and ask him to name you," she said nurturing the infant at her home in a small alley off Chien Thang Street in Ho Chi Minh City's Phu Nhuan Street.

Khuong was arrested on January 2 for allegedly bribing a policeman after he wrote an investigative report that revealed corruption by traffic police officers in the city. An officer in Binh Thanh District was also arrested.

The couple's six-year-old son Nguyen Phuc Khang, who is accustomed to Khuong's frequent absence for several days at a time on work, realizes that his father has been away for unusually long this time.

"Why has Dad not returned home for so long? Why doesn't he call us?" the boy often asks his mother.

Anh has not told her son that Khuong is in custody, fearing it might affect a child who already suffers because he has leukemia.

She hides from him to cry whenever she sees the medicines Khuong has to take for his stomach ulcers, sinusitis, and diabetes.

Her mother and sisters, who also live in HCMC, take turns to stay with her, taking the boy to school and helping her with the infant.

Khuong's aged parents have come from Nha Trang and are staying at his house in the hope of visiting their son.

"Summer is so hot in the city; I wonder what the weather is like in the prison," his father said, fanning himself with a newspaper.

His mother, who suffers from osteoarthritis, fears investigators may not find the "actual truth." She is convinced her son is innocent.

Controversy

Controversy has shrouded the case.

At a press conference last January, the police said Khuong had "arranged" to bribe traffic police in order to report on the case in his newspaper.

They said he had helped an associate get his seized motorbike back by bribing Senior Lieutenant Huynh Minh Duc of the Binh Thanh District traffic police, who has since been sacked and arrested.

Khuong's subsequent stories in his newspaper led to Duc's arrest. Khuong himself and his associate were also arrested.

Khuong, who denies any wrongdoing, said he had received permission from his supervisors before beginning the investigation.

Khuong's lawyer Phan Trung Hoai has urged relevant agencies to drop charges against Khuong because there is no evidence.

Even if there is, he said, Article 289 of the Penal Code and the Anti-Corruption Law both stipulate that anyone confessing to paying a bribe before it is detected by authorities should be absolved of the crime.

Besides, he was merely performing a public service, he said. "Khuong exposed the bribery by reporting the case in his newspaper."

The fact that he reported about the case in the newspaper showed that he had no personal benefit in mind, he pointed out.

"His violation should only be fined," he said.

He had sought Khuong's release on bail because he was sick and his wife was about to deliver, but his petition was rejected, he said.

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