Relative of Detained Vietnamese Journalist Indicted for Hiding Him from Police

In a separate case, state-media reporter gets slap on the wrist for jailable offense.
Independent journalist Le Van Dung
Facebook, RFA Edit

A relative of a detained Vietnamese journalist will stand trial for helping him evade capture by the police, state media reported.

Police in the capital Hanoi on Thursday indicted Nguyen Van Son, 65, for harboring his relative Le Van Dung, 51, founder and anchor of the Facebook-based online CHTV news channel, after they issued a special warrant for Dung.

Police arrested Dung at Son’s house in Hanoi on June 30 after a month-long search.

Dung was charged with “creating, storing, and disseminating  information, documents, items, and publications opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code for his online writings about land disputes, corruption and environmental pollution cases, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Son now faces charges of hiding a criminal under Article 389 of the Criminal Code.  RFA was unable to determine their exact relationship.

Slap on the wrist

Police in the north central province of Ha Tinh fined a reporter from the state-run Vietnam Businessmen Magazine for an anti-police comment he made on social media, a much lighter penalty than other social media users have received under the same charge, state media reported Friday.

Identified in state media as Nguyen Duc T., authorities ordered the reporter to pay 2.5 million dong (U.S. $109) for “abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to entice and incite others to violate the legitimate interests of organizations,” in violation of Article 331 of Vietnam’s criminal code.

On June 10, T. attached a comment to a news posting created by another user, saying “Brothers, let’s fight and trap the Ha Tinh Police,” according to the report.

The reporter met with the Ha Tinh Police July 12 and confessed to writing the comment, agreeing it had affected and violated the legitimate rights and interests of the Ha Tinh Police, the report said. 

Since January 2021, authorities have jailed several other social media users for violating Article 331.

On July 21, authorities sentenced Facebook user Tran Hoang Minh to five years in prison for posting stories in September 2020 that decried what he said were unfair verdicts against activists who opposed the government in a high-profile land dispute in September 2020.

Minh’s comments called for the murder of the judge in the case and advocated “killing as many public security officers as possible”. 

On April 15, 2021, Authorities sentenced Quach Duy, a former public servant at Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, to a four-and-a-half-year jail term for writing stories which allegedly offended the honor and dignity of Vietnamese leaders such as the late President Tran Dai Quang, former Party Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Le Thanh Hai, and former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. 

Harsh forms of persecution

With Vietnam’s media all following Communist Party orders, “the only sources of independently-reported information are bloggers and independent journalists, who are being subjected to ever-harsher forms of persecution,” the press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says in its 2021 Press Freedoms Index.

Measures taken against them now include assaults by plainclothes police, RSF said in its report, which placed Vietnam at 175 out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide, a ranking unchanged from last year.

“To justify jailing them, the Party resorts to the criminal codes, especially three articles under which ‘activities aimed at overthrowing the government,’ ‘anti-state propaganda’ and ‘abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to threaten the interests of the state’ are punishable by long prison terms,” the rights group said.

Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent deteriorated sharply last year with a spate of arrests of independent journalists, publishers, and Facebook personalities as authorities continued to stifle critics in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party Congress in January. But arrests continue in 2021.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.