Vietnam arrests two well-known Facebook users over democratic freedom abuse

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Facebook app logo

HANOI (Reuters) - Police in Vietnam have arrested two well-known Vietnamese Facebook users on charges of abusing democratic freedoms, the government said on Saturday, as a major leadership reshuffle in the Communist-ruled country is settling down.

Ex-reporter Truong Huy San, 62, and lawyer Tran Dinh Trien, 65, were arrested on accusations of "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state", the government said in a statement.

Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates little criticism.

The statement said San and Trien had posted articles on Facebook that infringe upon the interests of the state and lawful rights and interests of organizations and individuals, without elaborating.

Reuters could not immediately reach their lawyers for comments.

San's and Trien's Facebook posts were often critical of the administration and the law enforcement authorities. Their Facebook accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers disappeared from the platform less than a week ago, sparking rumours of their arrest.

The announcement of the arrests comes after the National Assembly on Thursday approved its new police minister and more than two weeks after a new state president and new parliament speaker were named amid heightened political turbulence.

The government's Saturday statement said the police had searched San's and Trien's homes, adding that further investigation was underway.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Himani Sarkar)