A popular Vietnamese news website has been suspended and fined about $10,000 after it was accused of publishing false information, as the communist government quashes any perceived criticism.
The one-party state controls most media and has jailed activists and bloggers critical of the government, but revoking licences is rare.
The Ministry of Information and Communication said in an announcement Monday that the state-owned Tuoi Tre Online misquoted President Tran Dai Quang in an article in June that had him endorsing the idea of a law on demonstrations.
In a separate report last year on highway development, comments posted on the site had also contributed to undermining “national unity”, the announcement said.
The report on the president came days after scores were detained in June, following sometimes violent protests in several cities against planned special economic zones seen as opening the door to land takeovers by China.
An American-Vietnamese citizen arrested during the crackdown is expected to face trial this week.
The demonstrations were not mentioned in the order from the ministry, which said the outlet must pay a fine, surrender its licence for three months, publish a correction and issue an apology.
“Tuoi Tre Online must seriously obey this decision,” the ministry said.
The newspaper connected with the site published a note Tuesday in print saying it would comply with the order.
“Tuoi Tre Online will have to say good bye to our readers for three months, starting July 16,” it said.
“During this time, Tuoi Tre Online will proceed with the perfection of its personnel, improving its content so that we can serve readers better when we are back.”
It said several print publications published by the same institution would continue operating normally.
The website was one of the most widely read in the country, publishing critical content on politics, lifestyle and social issues.