Joint Statement Calling for the Release of Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience
On 24 May 2009, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Vietnamese ICT entrepreneur and blogger, was arrested under the initial charge of “promoting anti-government propaganda” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
On 20 January 2010, in a one-day trial, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and his three co-defendants – Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long – were prosecuted at the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City for “conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code.
Thuc was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment followed by 5 years of house arrest, while Dinh, Trung and Long, were sentenced to 5 years, 7 years and 5 years’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of house arrest, respectively.
They did not receive a fair trial and relatives of the defendants and foreign journalists were not allowed in the courtroom. The defendants’ microphones did not function when Thuc’s defense counsel tried to speak on his behalf or when Long attempted to inform the court that the defendants’ confessions were written under duress.
The organisations call on the Vietnamese government to abide by their international and domestic obligations by ensuring that Thuc is immediately released. Only when the relevant authorities have taken the necessary steps so that his conviction is overturned, will justice to Thuc be restored.