Dinh Dang Dinh, 49, who worked as a teacher in Dak Nong province in the central highlands, was arrested on October 21 and has been in police custody ever since, officials told the Da Nang police newspaper website.

He is under investigation “for conducting propaganda against the socialist republic of Vietnam, abusing freedom and democratic rights and infringing on the state's interests,” the report said.

Dinh's arrest and detention at an unknown location were raised with the European Union by New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch in a January report prepared for the EU-Vietnam annual rights dialogue.

The charge of conducting anti-state propaganda is one of many “vaguely worded and loosely interpreted national security crimes in Vietnam’s penal code (used to) imprison peaceful political and religious dissidents,” HRW said.

Dinh called for pluralism, multi-party democracy and constitutional amendments online, and worked with “reactionary activists,” to “distort the policies and laws of the party and state,” the police newspaper website said.

Police found hundreds of pages of “anti-state content” on a computer seized during the arrest, including comments “rejecting the communist party of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh's ethics,” it said.

Dinh had also written articles criticising a bauxite project in Nhan Co district in Dak Nong province, which was posted on several overseas dissident websites, the report added.

Mining projects in the environmentally-pristine central highlands are highly controversial in Vietnam, which is estimated to hold the world's third-largest bauxite ore reserves.

“Dinh will have to pay for his acts and wrongdoings,” the newspaper website said.

Agence France Presse - February 21, 2012