The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders says that the Chinese government has “successfully pressured” Vietnam to arrest two Falun Gong members who operated an unauthorized short wave station out of that country.
“The organization is worried by this latest evidence of Chinese influence over its Asian neighbors in matters concerning media freedom, and urges the Vietnamese government to give Trung and Thanh a fair trial regardless of China’s pressure,” the RWB statement says.
According to the group, Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh have been charged with unlicensed broadcasting. Specifically, they’re accused of streaming their program, The Sound of Hope Radio Network, to China. They operated on a farm about 800 km from that country.
One question is whether Trung and Thanh are facing a criminal or an administrative charge. Reporters Without Borders says it’s been upgraded to a criminal matter. Radio Free Asia quotes a Vietnamese public interest lawyer who insists it’s administrative.
“The maximum sentence requires a fine, not imprisonment and not confiscation of equipment,” he told RFA. “Using a radio to help other members of Falun Gong is something forbidden in China, but not in Vietnam yet.”
The Falun Gong Buddhism-based religion is banned in China. Several weeks ago Reporters Without Borders criticized the arrest of the manager of a Falun Gong supporting radio station in Indonesia. The defendant in that case faces a six-year jail sentence.
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