Vietnamese Facebooker Sentenced to Five Years in Jail for Defaming State Officials

Facebooker Le Van Sinh

Defend the Defenders, September 12, 2019


Authorities in Vietnam’s northern province of Ninh Binh have convicted local Facebooker Le Van Sinh of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the country’s Penal Code for his online posts which were considered defaming the local government and its officials.

In the first-instance hearing on September 5, the People’s Court of Ninh Binh sentenced the 54-year-old Facebooker to five years in prison, the local media reported.

He is accused of using his Facebook account to disseminate a number of articles during the period between May 2018 and February 2019 with the content “distorts” officials from Hoa Lu district and provincial departments as well as policies of the government.

Mr. Nguyen Van Sinh in his trial on September 5, 2019

Citing the court’s judgement, the local media said he has violated the Law on Cyber Security which became effective in the beginning of this year.

Mr. Sinh is among 21 activists and Facebookers being sentenced for their peaceful activities from early 2019 to a total 99 years and six months in prison.

Vietnam is among the most repressive countries in the world. In its annual report released on September 10, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the Southeast Asian nation, together with Saudi Arabia, China, and Iran combine traditional censorship tactics such as imprisoning and harassing journalists with the use of sophisticated surveillance technology and targeted online campaigns to silence the independent press.

In its 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam at 176th out of 180 countries.