Vietnamese dissident appeals five-year sentence

Le Anh Hung's mother says she was told she couldn't visit him during appeal proceedings.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.09.20
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Vietnamese dissident appeals five-year sentence Blogger Le Anh Hung holds a sign saying “I don’t like the Vietnamese Communist Party.”
Facebook: Le Anh Hung

Vietnamese blogger Le Anh Hung has lodged an appeal against his five-year sentence for  “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State.”

Hung, 39, blogged about Vietnamese politics for Voice of America and news of his appeal was announced by fellow activist and journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, who spoke with Hung’s mother Tran Thi Niem.

“More than a week ago, when I visited Hung's mother, she told me that she had not been able to meet him at Temporary Detention Center No. 1.” which is under the authority of the Hanoi Police Department, Binh said.

“They told her that on September 12, he submitted an appeal so she could not meet him before the appeal hearing. "

RFA contacted Hung's mother again, but she told him she was too ill to give interviews. She earlier told RFA she had spoken with the Hanoi police investigator who told her Hung would probably be released next year after spending time in a mental hospital and in pre-trial detention.

Vietnam's security agencies often refuse to let dissidents meet their relatives after an appeal is lodged even though, Clause 1, Article 22 of the Law on Temporary detention and custody (2015) stipulates: 

“Those held in temporary detention can meet their relatives one time during temporary detention and one time after every extension of that detention. Those held in temporary custody can meet their relatives once a month. In case of an increase in meetings or if the persons to be met are not relatives, there must be approval from the body handling the case. The time of each meeting is within an hour.”

However, Clause 4, Article 22 of the above law also stipulates: 

“The head of the custody facility shall not agree on a meeting with the person held in temporary detention or custody when [authorities are] questioning or interrogating the person… or when they are involved in other procedural activities.”

A lawyer in Hanoi, who did not wish to be named for security reasons, said a person who appeals the original judgment would be considered by the procedural authorities to be a detainee who is participating in other legal activities.

He also said that in most cases, when preparing for first-instance or appellate trials, it is very rare for the defendant to be allowed to see their relatives. 

Hung was arrested in early July 2018 on charges of "abusing democratic freedoms to invade or violate the interests of the State, organizations and individuals” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code.

After more than four years in detention and forced treatment in a mental hospital, he was brought to trial on August 30 in a trial without lawyers and relatives.

The family only learned about the trial when Hung's mother called the investigator involved in his case who told her the outcome of the trial.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement on Sept. 16 calling on the Vietnamese government “to immediately and unconditionally release blogger Le Anh Hung and stop harassing journalists who were convicted of trumped-up [charges of] conducting anti-state propaganda.

“Blogger Le Anh Hung’s outrageous sentencing shows Vietnam will go to any length to stifle critical reporting of its policies, personalities, and rule,” said CPJ senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin.

“Hung and all other journalists wrongfully held behind bars in Vietnam must be released.”

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