Facebooker Nguyen Van Nghiem Sentenced to Six Years in Prison after Being Convicted of “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Facebooker Nguyễn Văn Nghiêm

Defend the Defenders, June 23, 2020


On June 23, the People’s Court of Vietnam’s northern province of Hoa Binh convicted local resident Nguyen Van Nghiem of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the country’s Criminal Code.

At the end of the first-instance hearing which lasted a few hours, the court sentenced the 57-year-old barber to six years in prison, Defend the Defenders has learned.

In an open trial, only the defendant’s wife was permitted to enter the courtroom while his friends and supporters were barred from observing the trial inside.

The defendant had no legal assistance although his wife had signed a contract with Hanoi-based attorney Ha Huy Son. It is likely Nghiem got pressured from the police to deny legal counseling.

Nghiem was arrested on November 5 last year over his posts on Facebook regarding issues such as human rights violations, systemic corruption, widespread environmental pollution and China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the weak response of Vietnam’s communist regime. He also conducted many live streams on his Facebook account Nghiem Nguyen on which criticized the communist regime and its leaders for their failure to deal with these problems.

So far this year, Vietnam has tried activists, four of them were convicted between nine months and six years for their posts on Facebook. In addition, hundreds of Facebookers have been fined up to VND15 million ($680) for their Facebook posts which were considered fake or untrue by the communist authorities, especially about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vietnam’s communist regime is holding at least 280 prisoners of conscience, according to the latest statistics of Defend the Defenders. More arrests are expected by the end of this year as the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam is preparing its 13th National Congress slated in January 2021.