HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese reporter’s press card has been revoked for “insulting” the military in an online post after a search plane crashed last week while looking for a missing fighter jet, the government said.
A decision by Minister of Information and Communication Truong Minh Tuan, posted on the ministry’s website late Monday, said the press card for reporter Mai Phan Loi of the Ho Chi Minh City Law newspaper had been revoked for “seriously insulting the reputation of Vietnamese People’s Army” and hurting the families of the military personnel who died in the accidents.
The move is connected Loi’s comments on the crash of a maritime patrol aircraft with six officers and three military personnel on board last week while searching for a fighter jet which went down two days earlier.
Loi, based in Hanoi for the newspaper, posted a comment on the Facebook page of the Young Journalists Forum asking why the aircraft “exploded into pieces,” saying the possibilities included it being shot down or because of poor quality “due to corruption in the military.”
Loi took the post down a day later from the forum that has 12,000 members, and apologized for using incorrect wording and “hurting those involved.”
On Tuesday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Loi had been suspended by his newspaper. Executives at the newspaper and Loi were not available for comment Tuesday.
All media outlets in Vietnam are under state control.
Bad weather has hampered the search for the missing aircraft, its nine crew members and the Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 fighter jet they were looking for.
The two crashes were the latest in a string of accidents involving the Vietnamese military, including two helicopters crashes that killed 24 people over the past two years.