Prosecutors proceed with case against Vietnamese influencer

Nguyen Phuong Hang used livestreams to criticize politicians and celebrities.
By RFA Vietnamese
2023.01.30
Prosecutors proceed with case against Vietnamese influencer Nguyen Phuong Hang listens to the decision to investigate her for slander following her arrest March 24, 2022 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Vietnam Police

UPDATED AT 06:00 a.m. ET ON 02-02-2023

Authorities in Ho Chih Minh City say they plan to prosecute an influencer and businesswoman for slandering celebrities on her social media channels.

Police wound up their investigation Thursday, and handed the case to the People’s Procuracy to charge Dai Nam Joint Stock Company General Director Nguyen Phuong Hang, 52, and two of her employees with "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals," Ho Chih Minh City Police said.

The employees named in the suit are Hang’s assistant Le Thi Thu Ha, and Huynh Cong Tan, Dai Nam JSC’s head of communications.

Hang was arrested on March 24, 2022, and accused of using her YouTube and TikTok accounts to livestream discussions during which she allegedly used abusive words and insulted people. Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched the livestreams and videos in which she criticized celebrities and politicians

Two days before her arrest, Hang talked extensively about her business relationship with Phan Van Mai, the chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.

She said that when he was serving as the secretary of the Ben Tre Party Committee in 2020, her company provided water treatment systems to help the southern province cope with rising salinization in the Mekong River delta.

“[He] has been ungrateful to my husband and me,” said Hang, who added that she wanted Vietnam’s top leaders to see Mai’s true colors so he wouldn’t be further promoted.

Hang was charged with violating Article 331 of the Vietnamese penal code, which has been condemned by international human rights groups as a tool for suppressing freedom of speech.

In January 2022, local civil society groups sent a petition to the government calling for the article’s removal because it was being used to crack down on political dissidents.

Police said that law professor Dang Anh Quan and lawyer Nguyen Dinh Kim, who took part in some of Hang’s livestreams, would not be prosecuted because their comments didn’t amount to slander.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.

This story has been updated to correct Nguyen Phuong Hang's name.

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