Vietnam editor sacked over dissident interview

HANOI - The editor of a Vietnamese news site has been sacked after publishing excerpts of an interview with an exiled dissident, the government said, the latest move to choke expression in the authoritarian country.

Vietnam's media is tightly controlled by the communist government, which routinely jails dissident bloggers but rarely dismisses top editors.

Nguyen Nhu Phong, the editor of state-run website PetroTimes, was fired and stripped of his press card "for committing wrongdoing in press activities", the Ministry of Information and Communications said in a statement late Monday.

The site will be suspended for three months, it added, without providing further details on the reason behind the blackout.

But the move came shortly after PetroTimes published parts of an interview with Germany-based anti-government activist Bui Thanh Hieu.

In the excerpts, which have since been taken down, the activist reportedly shared documents defending a former official accused of mismanaging a state construction firm.

PetroTimes ran "articles with details from unconfirmed sources which provided incorrect information, showing weaknesses in professionalism and political awareness," state-run Vietnam Television reported Monday.

The 61-year-old editor, a former police colonel, is known in Vietnam but his news site is not considered mainstream.

Vietnam faces regular criticism from rights groups for its intolerance of dissent, with lawyers, bloggers and activists regularly subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.

The one-party state ranks 175 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders' latest press freedom index.