How free is the media in Vietnam

Long prison terms for three journalists in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City - Three reporters from the Independent Association of Journalists of Vietnam (IJAVN) have been sentenced to 11 and 15 years' imprisonment for subversive offenses in the communist country. The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City announced on Tuesday that they were charged with "disseminating subversive propaganda under Article 117 of the Criminal Code".

Pham Chi Dung, the chairman of the IJAVN, has to go to prison for 15 years, as his lawyer told the German press agency. Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan received prison sentences of eleven years each. Human rights activists criticized both the conditions of detention and the conviction.

Solitary confinement for months

"The court did not accept any of my arguments," said lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, who defended Tuan as well as Dung. The three were held in solitary confinement for months and had no access to legal counsel until shortly before the trial, said Vu Quoc Ngu, director of the human rights organization "Defend the Defenders", of the dpa.

"This ruling underscores the Vietnamese authorities' utter contempt for free media," said Amnesty International's deputy regional director Emerlynne Gil.

Years of use

Dung founded the IJAVN in 2014, which campaigns for freedom of the press in Vietnam, but has been declared an illegal organization by the Vietnamese state. The 54-year-old had previously worked for the Vietnamese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security in Ho Chi Minh City.

He left this position after 20 years in December 2013 with the words: "The Communist Party no longer serves and represents the interests of the majority of the people." (APA, 5.1.2021)