Ex-journalist faces 15 years in jail for extortion

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A former journalist standing trial on July 20 for extorting over VND200 million (US$9,722) from a company faces a jail term of between seven and 15 years, the VnExpress newswire reported Monday.

 

Phan Ha Binh, former deputy managing director of Tien Phong Newspaper, will make his own defense at the trial to be conducted by the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court, the newswire quoted unnamed sources as saying.

 

According to the indictment, while Binh was collecting information to write about some projects implemented by the Saigon Investment Group's member companies last September, he asked Nguyen Cam Phuong, chief representative of Saigon-Tan Ky Cement Joint-stock Company in HCMC, to pay him for not writing stories unfavorable to the company.

 

After Phuong refused his demand, he published three articles about the company. Then he contacted Phuong again, saying that he would stop publishing more stories if she paid him VND200 million, and that he would write an article favorable to her company if she paid him another $3,000.

 

After some negotiation, Phuong agreed to his demands, saying that she would pay him VND220 million ($10.682).

 

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On October 13, the police, acting on information provided by Phuong, caught Binh red-handed receiving money from her at a restaurant in HCMC.

 

Investigations found Binh had also received $1,000 from HCMC-based Luong Tai Investment and Construction Corporation using the same scheme.

 

Hailing from the central province of Binh Dinh, Binh specialized in covering economics and business stories, and was appointed to the position of deputy managing director of Tien Phong's southern office last October, according to VnExpress.

 

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