Vietnamese journalists jailed for extorting hush money

Thanh Nien News

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Vo Thanh Tung, a former reporter with Ho Chi Minh City-based Phap Luat (Law) newspaper, at the Friday trial. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

A court in southern Vietnam on Friday handed down jail terms to two reporters who it said had extorted money from bar owners and police officers in exchange for cover-ups. 
Vo Thanh Tung, a former reporter with Ho Chi Minh City-based Phap Luat (Law) newspaper, was sentenced to 10 years on charges of “extortion” and “abuse of power.” 
Nguyen Kim Cuong, a former Thanh Nien reporter, received a five-month sentence. He was freed at the trial as his detention time was equal to the jail term. 
Two contributors with Phap Luat newspaper were punished with a jail term of five years and 17 months respectively.
According to the case file, between April and July 2013, Tung and the two contributors went to some bars, cock fighting dens and checkpoints in Dong Nai to collect information for their reports.
They reportedly extorted a combined VND415 million (US$19,438) of hush money from bar owners and traffic police officers.
Using his influence over those police officers, Tung also worked with Cuong to save dozens of overloaded trucks from being fined by the officers and then received bribes worth VND164 million ($7,681) from the truck owners later. 
Tung and Cuong were fired by their newspapers after they were detained in October 2013.

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