Truong Duy Nhat, a blogger based in the central city of Danang who has been held since May 2013, was sentenced to two years in prison today on a charge of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organizations and citizens.”
“We are outraged by the continuing persecution of bloggers,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “Like Le Quoc Quan, whose jail term was upheld two weeks ago, Nhat is being jailed for his commitment to Vietnam’s right to an alternative to the information provided by the state propaganda machine.
“The government’s repressive, uncommunicative and short-sighted behaviour must end. We demand the release of Nhat and all the other detained bloggers, who are guilty solely of promoting freedom of information in Vietnam.”
Nhat, who insisted on his innocence throughout his trial in Danang, was convicted under article 258 of the penal code, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Although he acknowledged posting content critical of the authorities, he denied that this violated any law. Agence France-Presse was not allowed to attend the trial.
Police arrested Nhat in Danang on 26 May 2013 after searching his home and seizing his computer, mobile phone, USB sticks and SIM cards. His family was not given a copy of his indictment until 25 February, although it was dated 17 December.
Aged 50, Nhat used to work for various state-controlled newspapers – including Bao Cong An Quang Nam Danang (a police newspaper) and Dai Doan Ket – until 2011, when he resigned to devote himself to his blog, “Another point of view,” which was outspoken and critical of the government. It has been closed since his arrest.
Ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Vietnam is the world’s second biggest prison for bloggers and netizens, after China.
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