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Hanoi - Vietnamese police have arrested a prominent blogger and his associate for posting “ugly content” about the communist state, the latest incident in a crackdown on dissent that is testing US efforts to bolster ties with its former foe.

Former policeman and private detective Nguyen Huu Vinh, 58, known locally for gathering and posting political and social comments from the public, was arrested on Monday with Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, 34, for publishing “wrongful information”.

The Ministry of Public Security, which oversees police, said the blog postings had made the public lose faith in the state apparatus, according to its website. They are charged with abusing their democratic freedoms.

Vietnam's zero-tolerance approach to criticism of its rulers has drawn international condemnation and the latest arrests come ahead of United States negotiations in Ho Chi Minh City this month over a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Three political dissidents were freed from jail last month as pressure mounts on Vietnam to halt the intimidation, arrest and imprisonment of activists that rights groups say is at a similar level to China.,

Among those released was lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu, whose father was a former minister and associate of late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh.

Vinh's profile grew because he, too, is the son of a former minister, top ruling party member and ambassador to what was once the Soviet Union, a key ally of Vietnam.

Vinh has not updated his blog since April 4 after what he said was a deluge of attacks from hackers. It was not immediately clear what Thuy's role was, or how involved she was with Vinh's blog, which covered politics, graft and relations with China, issues deemed highly sensitive in Vietnam.

Washington has been active with its former war enemy in the past decade, from de-mining and health programmes to university scholarships and military exchanges, ostensibly to boost its profile in a region where China has considerable clout.

Experts say, however, Vietnam's human rights record is likely to be an obstacle in Congress. - Reuters