Le Van Dung, a freelance reporter, was sentenced to five years in prison for conducting propaganda against the ruling Socialist Republic of Vietnam on March 23. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for the immediate release of Le Van Dung and an end to the ongoing persecution of journalists in Vietnam.
Le Van Dung was sentenced to five years in prison by the People’s Court of Hanoi under Article 88 of the Vietnam’s Penal Code for allegedly circulating information against the ruling party.
The court argued that the journalist “made and posted on the internet 12 clips with propaganda content against the State, defaming the government, [and] spreading fabricated news”. The series of twelve videos, posted online to platforms YouTube and Facebook between March 2017 and September 2018, discussed political and social issues in Vietnam, including information on state legislation and fundamental rights.
Le Van Dung’s sentence comes almost a year after the reporter’s initial arrest in June 2021.
“In court, Mr. Dung’s spirit was sober and calm. He stated that accusing him of violating Article 88 of the Penal Code 1999 based on the expert conclusion of the Hanoi Department of Information and Communications has no legal basis, does not follow a standard, no rules and he thinks he’s innocent”, the reporter’s lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said in a statement.
According to Human Rights Watch, Le Van Dung is “one of more than 60 people” being persecuted and imprisoned for their critical reporting on Vietnam’s ruling party.
“Vietnamese authorities persist in treating any sort of criticism of the government as a grave threat to be prosecuted with long prison terms. International donors and trade partners of Vietnam should press Hanoi to listen to its critics instead of persecuting them,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
The IFJ said: “The rising number of attacks, arrests, and killings of media workers in Vietnam is deeply concerning and displays complete disregard for both freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The IFJ urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately drop all charges against Le Van Dung and end its vilification of Vietnam’s media.”