Jailed Vietnamese blogger’s wife disagrees with guilty verdict, thanks supporters

Nguyen Lan Thang was sentenced to six years in jail for spreading anti-state propaganda.
By Roseanne Gerin for RFA
Jailed Vietnamese blogger’s wife disagrees with guilty verdict, thanks supporters A court in Hanoi this week sentenced prominent political activist and long-time RFA contributing blogger Nguyen Lan Thang to six years in prison on charges of spreading 'anti-state propaganda.'

The wife of a Vietnamese political activist and blogger convicted of spreading "anti-state propagand"a issued a letter on Thursday expressing disagreement with the verdict and thanking supporters and attorneys who defended her husband.

The Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Nguyen Lan Thang, a long-time contributor of blog posts on politics and society to Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese service, to six years in prison and two years of probation. 

Authorities arrested him in July 2022 based on allegations that he posted videos on Facebook and YouTube that were said to “oppose” the Vietnamese Communist Party.

He is one of four jailed Radio Free Asia contributors in Vietnam. 

“Although we disagree (if not oppose) with the trial and the verdict, our hearts feel warm because humanity is still alive,” wrote Thang’s wife Le Thi Bich Vuong.

“Our family would like to thank everyone for their posts, shares, support, and encouraging smiles toward us,” her letter said.

Vuong went on to say that her family still believes that Thang is “a patriot who has never done anything wrong with the country and his conscience.”

“We believe in what is right and that true progress will eventually triumph,” she wrote.

Thang’s conviction is the latest of a string of judgments against dissidents under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, frequently used by authorities to restrict freedom of expression and opinions deemed critical of the regime.

‘Gross miscarriage of justice’

Various human rights and other groups weighed in on the verdict, with the International Commission of Jurists calling it a “gross miscarriage of justice which should be immediately quashed.”

“The prosecution and conviction is not only a miscarriage of justice against an individual, but yet another attack on an already battered rule of law in Vietnam,” Ian Seiderman, the organization’s legal and policy director said in a statement. 

“The ongoing and heightened crackdown has targeted civil society activists, lawyers, journalists, political commentators and human rights defenders for engaging in activities that are protected under human rights law,” he said.

London-based Amnesty International tweeted that Thang’s trial had been “riddled with flaws.” 

“The sentence is nothing more than an attempt to silence him and others bravely documenting human rights abuses in the country,” the organization said.

RFA President Bay Fang said the conviction was “a miscarriage of justice and an assault on free expression in Vietnam” and called on authorities to immediate release Thang and drop the charges against him.

“The outrageous harassment he has endured and his sentencing to six years in prison demonstrate the extent to which Vietnamese authorities will go to silence independent journalists and voices,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

Squelching free speech

Amanda Bennett, head of the United States Agency for Global Media, which comprises six organizations including RFA, said Thang’s sentencing struck another blow against free speech and freedom of the press in Vietnam.  

“For nearly a decade, Nguyen Lan Thang shared timely and prescient perspectives on freedom, democracy, and human rights with the Vietnamese audience of Radio Free Asia,” she said in a statement issued Thursday. “I join the chorus of international voices calling on the government of Vietnam to drop all charges and immediately release Nguyen Lan Thang.”

Thang’s conviction came two days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to visit Hanoi to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership. 

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Right Watch said Blinken should take the opportunity to urge the Vietnamese government to end its systemic abuse of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and release the more than 160 political prisoners, including Thang, imprisoned for exercising their rights.

“The Vietnamese government’s human rights record has deteriorated in recent years, with almost all prominent bloggers, citizen journalists, and rights activists arrested and imprisoned for expressing views the authorities did not agree with,” Robertson said in a statement.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.


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