A Vietnamese noodle seller made famous over a viral video that was viewed as mocking a senior government official has been arrested, police in Vietnam said, the latest in a crackdown on critics of the country’s Communist rulers.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Thursday that police should “immediately free” Bui Tuan Lam, 38, who runs a beef noodle stall in the city of Da Nang. Lam was accused of anti-state propaganda for posting online content that police said in a statement on Wednesday had distorted guidelines and the policies of Vietnam’s ruling party.
It was not immediately clear which incident Lam was arrested for.
In 2021, the noodle seller was summoned by police for filming himself imitating the flamboyant cooking gestures of celebrity Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, or “Salt Bae”, days after Vietnam’s powerful minister of public security was caught on camera eating gold-encrusted steak at the chef’s restaurant in London.
A video of the minister and his entourage being served the Golden Tomahawk steak – which sells for up to $2,000 – went viral in Vietnam, promoting questions on social media as to how government employees on modest official salaries could afford such luxuries.