Le Tuan is the latest journalist in Vietnam to be arrested on allegation of the creation and distribution of anti-government propaganda under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. He is the fourth and, at the age of 30, the youngest IJAVN member to be detained after the arrests of high-profile journalists, Pham Chi Dung and Nyugen Tuong Thuy in May this year.
Le Tuan has been a member of the IJAV, an organization that aims to provide a shield for independent journalists to voice dissent, since 2015. He has written several articles which critique the state’s actions and is a supporter of democracy. While media in Vietnam has always been strictly controlled, the recent IJAVN arrests are symptomatic of the state’s increasingly aggressive tactic to silence any opponents to their rule. Vietnam currently holds 277 activists in prison.
Article 117 of the Criminal Code is just one of the many censorship laws that restrict the publication of media that does not circulate state propaganda. Le Tuan has been charged for “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State”.Under Article 117, Le Tuan could face between 5 to 20 years in jail, depending on how severe the state determines his crime to be.
According to an activist’s Facebook post, Le Tuan was still studying at the Hanoi University of Law prior to the arrests and had been co-operating with security agencies affiliated with the government. He is currently being held under detention.
IFJ said: “The arrest of Le Huu Minh Tuan is a clear demonstration of the how the state continues to abuse of its powers to violate the rights and freedoms of its people. IFJ urges the authorities to stop the mistreatment of journalists and to release the media workers who have been unfairly locked up.”