On July 5, 2018, authorities in Vietnam arrested independent blogger Le Anh Hung and charged him with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code. Tran Thi Niem, Hung’s mother, told VOA that police also searched their house and took away some banners “denouncing Hanoi Party Secretary Hoang Trung Hai and General Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.”
Blogger Le Anh Hung is a regular political writer for VOA Vietnamese. He is a key figure of Vietnam Broadcasting Radio and a member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), according to independent journalist Nguyen Vu Binh.
In October, Hung had gone on a hunger strike but was fed by prison authorities by force through his mouth and nose “till he bled,” Binh wrote on his Facebook page following his attempt to see Hung.
VOA’s Vietnamese Service talked to Hung’s mother, Tran Thi Niem, on April 5 and learned that he was transferred from prison to a mental hospital on April 1. Niem told VOA that her request to meet with her son in the hospital was turned down by hospital officials and the police citing that a visit would be allowed after the hospital completed the diagnosis. The transfer was involuntary and against Hung’s wishes.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, Nguyen Vu Binh said his friend appeared tired and weak and was being forced to take medication by injection.
“Le Anh Hung asked his mother to tell everyone to help him end this forced treatment. He is worried that the medication will damage his health,” Binh said.
If convicted, he could serve up to seven years in prison.
On May 28, 2019 Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) sent a bicameral letter with 23 other House and Senate colleagues to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighting a number of troubling cases of arrests and detentions of independent journalists in Vietnam. Le Anh Hung was among the journalists mentioned in this letter.