Vietnam: Court upholds nine-year prison sentence for journalist

A Vietnamese court has upheld a nine-year prison sentence for journalist and prominent activist, Pham Doan Trang, rejecting her appeal against an initial December ruling on August 25. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the court’s decision and calls for Trang’s immediate release.

Policemen stand guard in front of the Hanoi People's Courthouse on January 8, 2018. Credit: Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP

In October 2020, Trang, who has written extensively on human rights abuses and police brutality in Vietnam, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City for “making, storing, disseminating or propagandising information, materials and products that aim to oppose the State”, according to Vietnam’s Public Security Ministry.

Despite pleading not guilty to all charges, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Trang to nine years imprisonment for publishing anti-state propaganda. 

Trang appealed the case on the grounds that the December trial did not follow proper legal processes. According to reports, she was interrupted repeatedly during the initial court proceedings.

On August 25, the Hanoi People’s Court rejected Trang’s claims and maintained that her actions had been “…dangerous for society”. 

Since her arrest in 2020, Trang has not been permitted to see her family. According to her lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, she suffers from multiple health issues, including sinusitis resulting from a Covid-19 infection and a knee injury, which she acquired during a 2015 protest in Hanoi.

Journalists and media workers are regularly persecuted by Vietnam’s judicial system. In April this year, journalist, Le Trong Hung, who had been serving a five-year sentence for posting politically charged videos on social media, lost his appeal.

Earlier this week, Vietnam’s National Assembly announced a new regulation allowing authorities to fine journalists for recording court proceedings without receiving permission from the courts. 

The IFJ said: “The treatment of journalists and media workers by Vietnam’s authorities is tantamount to persecution. Vietnam’s judicial system must do more to protect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The IFJ condemns the decision to reject Pham Doan Trang’s appeal and urges the authorities to release Trang immediately.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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