The Ministry of Public Security on Thursday opened a criminal case against a newspaper for running a piece that contained a lawyer's criticism of a firm owned by the ministry.
The ministry accused the online edition of the Phap Luat and Xa Hoi (Laws and Society) newspaper -- the official paper of the Hanoi Justice Department -- of violating a law prohibiting the “abuse of civil freedom in violation of the state’s interests and the legal interests of other citizens and organizations."
The story, authored by Minh Thang, was published online on June 2 and cited an lawyer as accusing the Global Telecommunications Corporation (GTEL) of engaging in illegal activities without consequence.
The company told the ministry, two days later, that the claim was false and defamatory.
Based on the company’s complaints, the ministry said it found signs of criminal libel in the story, which it said tarnished the prestige and public reputation of the company.
The story, entitled “Lawyer accuses Ministry of Public Security firm of engaging in Kien-style business,” has been removed from the website
The headline made reference to 50-year-old Nguyen Duc Kien, a bank tycoon who is currently on trial for fraud, tax evasion, illegal business practices, and violating state regulations on economic management.
Kien, a former co-founder of Asia Commercial Bank, was once listed as one of the country's 100 richest people.
Now, however, he could now face up to 30 years in jail. He is awaiting the verdict, which is expected on June 9.
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