Vietnam arrests blogger for criticism over Taiwanese plastic firm's chemical spill

TAIPEI - Vietnam has arrested another prominent blogger critical of an environmental disaster in the country caused by a subsidiary of Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp.

Le Dinh Luong, 51, was taken in Monday by police in Nghe An province for engaging in "regular activities with the aim to overthrow the authority and complicate local security."

Among causes Luong has rallied against online is the Vietnamese government's response to last year's catastrophic chemical spill at the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel factory, which decimated fisheries along the north central coast in Ha Tinh province.

The plant is owned by Taiwanese industrial giant Formosa Plastics Corp.

The incident saw over 200 kilometers of Vietnam's coast polluted with toxic waste. The spill devastated the affected area's residents, who strongly rely on fishing and tourism. In response, the plant paid US$500 million (S$678 million) in compensation.

Efforts by media to contact Luong since his arrest have failed and, according to Reuters, it remains unclear whether he has any legal representation.

His arrest comes just under a month after fellow activist blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh - better known by her pen name Mother Mushroom - was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for "propagating" against the state following the Formosa Plastics disaster.

Although the country maintains tightly control over traditional media, bloggers like Luong have sought to hold authorities to account, on both their own sites as well as on social media platforms like Facebook.

The arrests appear to be part of a crackdown by authorities on critics - another of them, Tran Thi Nga, was found guilty and sentenced to nine years' prison Tuesday.