Prominent political activist and blogger Nguyen Lan Thang was sentenced to six years in prison and two years of probation by the Hanoi People’s Court on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. The long-time Radio Free Asia (RFA) contributor was arrested in July 2022 and charged with spreading anti-state propaganda.
Authorities accused Thang of “making, storing, spreading or propagating anti-state information, documents, items and publications opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” a charge often used to suppress free speech under the country’s criminal code Article 117.
He has written several articles on freedom, democracy, and human rights on the RFA Vietnamese blog since 2013.
“The sentencing of Nguyen Lan Thang in Vietnam strikes yet 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. I join the chorus of international voices calling on the government of Vietnam to drop all charges and immediately release Nguyen Lan Thang.”
– Amanda Bennett, CEO, U.S. Agency for Global Media
“Today’s conviction of Nguyen Lan Thang is both a miscarriage of justice and an assault on free expression in Vietnam. The outrageous harassment he has endured and his sentencing to six years in prison demonstrates the extent to which Vietnamese authorities will go to silence independent journalists and voices.’
– Bay Fang, President, Radio Free Asia
“For more than a decade, Nguyen Lan Thang has carried out crucial work documenting protests and human rights abuses in Vietnam despite a worsening climate of retribution aimed at those who criticize the state. His peaceful activism and reporting should be welcomed as part of legitimate public debate, but instead, he is facing years in prison.”
– Ming Yu Hah, Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Amnesty International