Five Years in Prison for Popular Blogger

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court. A handful was arrested, but released later in the day.
Photo: Dan Lam Bao.

Vietnamese authorities should release blogger Nguyễn Hữu Vinh and his assistant Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy who were convicted on politically motivated charges, said Civil Rights Defenders after a court in Hanoi announced its decision on Wednesday.

On 23 March, 2016 prominent blogger Nguyễn Hữu Vinh, more known under his pen name Anh Ba Sam, was sentenced to five years in prison, while his assistant Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy received a three-year prison sentence.

Both were found guilty under Article 258 of the Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State (…)”. Nguyễn Hữu Vinh and Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy have been in pre-trial detention since May 2014 for alleged anti-state postings.

Nguyễn Hữu Vinh, who is a former police officer and Communist Party member, set up a blog called Ba Sam in 2007, which together with other social media projects drew a huge readership. The blog’s postings mainly contained commentary and links to news on political, economic, social and cultural issues. According to local media, the prosecution said that the articles “present a one-sided and pessimistic view, causing anxiety and worry, and affecting the people’s confidence”.

“This is a clear case of the Vietnamese authorities using vaguely worded legal provisions as a tool to silence human rights defenders. Nguyen Huu Vinh has engaged in peaceful writing, not committed any crimes,” said Brittis Edman, South East Asia Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

Civil Rights Defenders calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent human rights defender, his assistant and other imprisoned bloggers and urges Vietnamese authorities to stop persecution of human rights defenders and bloggers.