A Vietnamese court sentenced a journalist to eight years in prison Friday for writing anti-state stories and sharing them on social media, her lawyer told RFA.
The People’s Court of the South Central Coast of Phu Yen convicted Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu for violating Article 117 of the Vietnam Penal Code on charges of “creating, storing and disseminating information and documents against the Republic of Vietnam. Vietnamese socialism ”.
“The trial lasted three hours, pretty quickly. The prosecutor gave sentences of between 5 and 12 years and I think eight years is quite harsh, ” Nguyen Kha Thanh, Attorney Dieu told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“Multiple sclerosis. Dieu has a clean criminal record. This is her first crime,” Thanh said.
A former employee of a state newspaper, Dieu was arrested in August 2020, for managing a Facebook profile called “Tuyet Babel” and a YouTube account called “Tuyet Dieu Tran.” According to the Vietnam News Agency, citing the indictment, Dieu used these websites to disseminate 25 news articles and 9 videos that were allegedly anti-State.
She also hosts seven other anti-state stories on her laptop and has published online writing in support of democracy activist Nguyen Viet Dung, who is currently serving a six-year sentence for distributing anti-government documents. the state, including his photo in military uniform in front of the flag of South Vietnam, was defeated when the communist North reunited the country in 1975.
After Dieu was arrested, she was not allowed to contact anyone for several months and was not allowed to see a lawyer until November 2020.
“She was innocent and said there was no victim of what she did. She does not accept the charges because the trial cannot find the person harmed by her actions, ”the lawyer said.
“But the court said her actions harm the nation, a popular tactic that allows them not to have to point out any specific victims,” he said.
Thanh said that as an ordinary citizen, Dieu’s writings were not made with the intent to oppose the government, and that an individual’s writing was not strong enough to overthrow an entire government.
“In my opinion, what she is doing is not against the authorities. I guess Miss Dieu wrote those things out of frustration or something. She should have been charged with an administrative violation or for insulting the organization, ”said Thanh.
Severe forms of persecution
With the Vietnamese media all obeying the Communist Party’s orders, “the only source of information independently reported to be independent bloggers and journalists who are subjected to various forms of terrorism. It is getting tougher, ”said the Reporters Without Borders Watchdog (RSF), the 2021 Press Freedom Index.
The RSF said in its report, the measures taken against them now include attacks by plainclothes police, ranking Vietnam 175 out of 180 countries surveyed across the country. world, ranking was unchanged from last year.
“To justify their imprisonment, the Party used criminal codes, specifically the three provisions under which ‘work to overthrow the government’, ‘propaganda against the state’ and ‘abuse of rights’. freedom, democracy to threaten the interests of the state. ‘can be punished with long sentences,’ the human rights group said.
Vietnam’s already low tolerance to dissent worsened last year with a series of arrests of independent journalists, publishers, and Facebook characters as authorities continued. persistent blocking of critics ahead of the ruling Communist Party Congress in January. But arrests continue into 2021.
Reporting by RFA’s Vietnamese Service, translated by Chau Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.