Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang demands public trial

His lawyer says Hanoi authorities have ignored Thang's demands in the run-up to Wednesday’s hearing.
By RFA Vietnamese
Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang demands public trial Nguyen Lan Thang in an interview with RFA in 2015

Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Lan Thang goes to court Wednesday, accused of “conducting anti-state propaganda.” He’s been charged under the controversial Article 117 of the Criminal Code, often used by the authorities to suppress free speech on social media and Thang believes he won’t even have the opportunity to defend himself in court, according to his lawyer.

Lawyer Le Dinh Viet spent time with his client last Friday at the Hanoi Police Department-run Temporary Detention Center No. 1.

Thang told his lawyer he petitioned the People's Court of Hanoi on March 15 to request access to his case file, asked for a pen and paper to prepare his defense and requested permission to question an expert of Hanoi’s Department of Information and Communications before or at the trial. So far his requests have been ignored and Thang said if they are not met soon it will  seriously affect his right to defend himself. 

Lawyer Viet said his client did not agree with Hanoi People's Court’s decision to hold a closed trial because his case has nothing to do with state secrets.

Article 25 of the 2015 Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that the court must conduct a public trial, except in specific cases: where it is necessary to keep state secrets, protect the customs and traditions of the nation, to protect persons under 18 years of age, or to keep the private lives of parties involved secret at their request. In all those cases the sentencing must be public.

The lawyer posted Thang’s comments on his personal Facebook page to publicize his client’s objections to holding the trial ‘in camera.’

“By holding a closed trial, I am afraid that the trial will not be conducted normally, and my activities and even my rights, including the right to defend, will not be guaranteed according to the law,” Thang is quoted as saying.

“If the case is heard publicly, I will have the opportunity to express my views and argue about what the Procuracy uses as a basis for accusing me. Only then will I have a real chance to prove that I am not guilty of the crime as alleged by the Procuratorate's indictment."

The 48-year-old has written several articles on freedom, democracy and human rights on the RFA Vietnamese blog since late 2013.

Thang joined the protest movement against China infringing on Vietnam's territorial waters in 2011 and is a photographer who has contributed many images and videos about protests over the sovereignty of the sea and islands, and also the fight against injustice in Vietnam. 

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.


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