A court in Vietnam on January 5, 2021, sentenced Pham Chi Dung, reporter and blogger with Voice of America Vietnamese Service, to 15 years in prison for “dangerous actions” against the Hanoi government.
He was the service’s most popular blogger until his arrest and detention on November 21, 2019, in Ho Chi Ming City. He helped create the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN).
He had been indicted along with IJAVN members Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan for “making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Thuy and Tuan both received 11–year sentences.
“These brave individuals dared to report the truth about the Communist Party of Vietnam. They should not be imprisoned, but heralded,” USAGM CEO Michael Pack said in a statement.
At their trial, the three defendants said they had founded the Independent Journalists Association to promote freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights only in accordance with permitted regulations, defense attorney Dang Dinh Manh wrote on his Facebook page after the trial, RFA reported.
Shawn Crispin of the Committee to Protect Journalists said that “Vietnam’s outrageous sentencing of journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh to more than a decade in prison each shows that the country’s government has no intention of allowing even the most basic elements of a free press.”