Vietnamese journalist charged with with extortion
Oct 21, 2010, 8:08 GMT
Hanoi - Vietnamese authorities have charged an editor at a leading Vietnamese newspaper with 'extortion of property,' officials said Thursday.
Prosecutors on Wednesday approved the decision to charge Phan Ha Binh, 42, for demanding payment from a cement company in return for hushing up stories about a delayed construction project, the national security investigation agency said.
Binh, who is the deputy managing editor of Tien Phong newspaper, allegedly demanded the money from Sai Gon Tan Ky Cement Company after writing and publishing an article about delays to one of its building projects.
Binh said he would publish more stories on the delays unless the company paid up. Under Vietnamese law, a company's investment licence can be revoked if a project does not show enough progress.
The building site in Nghe An province, central Vietnam, has been idle for the last four months as Sai Gon Tan Ky has failed to find investors, according to Binh's first article.
There has been no indication from the police or the company that the report was inaccurate.
He was reportedly caught red-handed last Thursday taking 220 million dong (11,600 dollars) from representatives of the company at a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
'He has many times blackmailed companies. There is a limit for everything, even a worm will turn, so the company reported him to us,' said Lieutenant General Trinh Luong Hy, head of the security investigation agency which arrested Binh.
Binh faces a sentence of between seven and 15 years' prison if convicted.
Tien Phong often runs investigative stories and is one of the country's best-selling newspapers.
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