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Vietnam Has Arrested This Noodle Seller Known As “Green Onion Bae” For Parodying Salt Bae

A noodle seller in Vietnam who went viral for impersonating Salt Bae has been arrested by authorities for “anti-state propaganda” in the latest crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

38-year-old Bui Tuan Lam, who runs a beef noodle stall in the central city of Danang, shared a video in November last year showing him sprinkling green onions in the style of Nusret Gökçe, the Turkish celebrity chef known as Salt Bae.

Lam’s video came days after a video of Salt Bae hand-feeding a senior Vietnamese government minister gold-encrusted steak at his restaurant in London went viral, sparking outrage.

Steaks at the restaurant cost up to US$1,725, leading many Vietnamese people to question how the minister could afford the meal, which many said cost more than the minister’s monthly wage, according to the BBC.

Lam, who called himself “Green Onion Bae”, was then summoned by police.

“The video I made was for fun and for advertising my beef noodle shop. More customers have been coming since I posted it,” Lam said, adding it was not clear why police had summoned him, CNN reported.

Police arrested Lam on Wednesday Sep. 7, accusing him of posting anti-state propaganda online that “had distorted guidelines and the policies of Vietnam’s ruling party,” according to Al Jazeera.

“Vietnamese authorities regularly define any comment they don’t like as ‘propaganda against the state’, making Vietnam one of the most thin-skinned governments in the region when it comes to public criticism.” Human Rights Watch said. “Mockery is a legitimate form of expression that should not be considered a crime.”

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