Jailed Vietnamese RFA Blogger Moved to New, ‘Better’ Prison

2021-04-15
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Jailed Vietnamese RFA Blogger Moved to New, ‘Better’ Prison Independent journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy is shown at his trial in Ho Chi Minh City, Jan. 5, 2021.
Reuters

A jailed Vietnamese blogger serving an 11-year prison term for writing articles criticizing Vietnam’s government has been moved to a new prison following reports of harsh conditions in the jail where he was previously held, his wife said Thursday.

Nguyen Tuong Thuy, an independent journalist and former RFA Vietnamese Service blogger, was moved April 15 from the Bo La detention center in Binh Duong province to the An Phuoc detention center in the same province.

Thuy, 71, was older than many of the other inmates held at Bo La, was often last in line when the prison canteen opened for purchases of food, and was hindered in performing daily tasks by an injury to his hand suffered when police wrenched his phone away from him at the time of his arrest.

Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, Thuy’s wife Nguyen Thi Lan said she learned her husband had been transferred when she called a receptionist at Bo La whose phone number she was given on a previous visit.

“I called the receptionist every day, and today she told me that my husband had been transferred to the An Phuoc detention center at 10:00 a.m.,” Lan said, adding, “He hasn’t called home yet, however.”

Lan said she was relieved to hear that Thuy had been transferred.

“I’m very happy, as many inmates who have returned from An Phuoc have said that the food and accommodations there are very good.”

Lan said she would prepare food to bring to her husband, and then take a flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and a bus to Binh Duong to visit Thuy on Friday.

Thuy, who had blogged on civil rights and freedom of speech issues for RFA’s Vietnamese Service for six years, was sentenced on Jan. 5 with two other bloggers—like Thuy members of the Vietnam Independent Journalists’ Association—who were handed lengthy jail terms at the same time.

'Anti-state writings'

Arrested in May 2020, Thuy was indicted along with Pham Chi Dung and Le Huu Minh Tuan on Nov. 10 for “making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes" under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Sentenced with Thuy, Pham Chi Dung was given a 15-year prison term, while Le Huu Minh Tuan was jailed for 11 years. Dung was transferred from Bo La to An Phuoc on March 29.

Thuy later refused to appeal his sentence, tearing up a petition form given to him after prison guards told him what to write on it, Thuy’s lawyer told RFA in an earlier report.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Vietnam 175 out of 180 in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index. About 25 journalists and bloggers are being held in Vietnam’s jails, “where mistreatment is common,” the Paris-based watchdog 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 Chau Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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