Detention extended for ex-scribe in extortion case

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The nation's highest prosecuting agency has extended the detention of a former deputy managing editor of the Hanoi-based Tien Phong newspaper to investigate a case involving extortion of money from a cement company.

Phan Ha Binh, 41, who was arrested in October last year, will be kept in custody for another three months.

Binh was caught red-handed taking VND220 million (US$11,284) from a representative of the Saigon-Tan Ky Cement Joint-stock Company, under the Tan Tao Group and Saigon Investment Group (SIG), on October 13, 2010.

Initial investigations showed that under his pen name, Ha Phan, Binh wrote a series covering ineffective projects implemented by SIG, including a story unfavorable to the cement company.

After the story was published, Binh met with the company's leaders to ask for money, threatening that if they didn't agree to pay him, he would continue publishing more unfavorable stories.

On October 20, an official decision was taken to place him under investigation for "extorting property."

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