Prisoner of Conscience, Political Blogger Pham Thanh Allowed to Meet Lawyer to Prepare for Defense

Blogger Pham Chi Thanh (aka Pham Thanh)

Defend the Defenders, May 28, 2021


Prisoner of conscience and political blogger Pham Chi Thanh (aka Pham Thanh) has been permitted to meet his lawyer Ha Huy Son for the first time since his arrest in late May last year to prepare for his defense, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Lawyer Son told Defend the Defenders that he met Mr. Thanh on May 28 in the Temporary Detention Center No. 1 under the authority of the Hanoi Police Department to work on his case. The investigation has been completed and the 69-year-old activist may be brought to court soon on charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code with potential imprisonment of between seven and 12 years, even 20 years in prison if convicted.

Son said his client’s health is good and fit for working for his defense.

However, according to his family, Thanh is not good after falling to a cement ground and had been under medical treatment for an injury in his head.

Mr. Thanh is a retired reporter and editor of the state-controlled Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV). He has written a number of books critical of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and its leaders, including late President Ho Chi Minh and incumbent General Secretary cum President Nguyen Phu Trong. His posts on his blog Bà Đầm Xoè are mainly critical of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and its leader Trong. In 2019, he released a book titled Thế thiên hành đạo hay Đại nghịch bất đạo (Holder of Mandate of Heaven or Great Immoral Traitor) and its main character is the incumbent party chief.

On his blog Bà Đầm Xoè he posted his writings on politics and social issues, including China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the weak response of the Vietnamese Communist regime, systemic corruption, widespread environmental pollution, human rights violations, etc.

His arrest on May 21 last year is part of Vietnam’s intensified crackdown on local dissent before and after the 13th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

So far this year, Vietnam’s communist regime has arrested 12 activists and sentenced 14 activists to between two years and 15 years in prison.

According to Amnesty International, Vietnam is the largest jailer of prisoners of conscience with 170 activists being jailed while the latest statistics of Defend the Defenders shows that Hanoi is holding at least 262 prisoners of conscience. Reporters Without Borders regularly ranks Vietnam among the worst five countries on press freedom and the jailing of bloggers in particular. Vietnam’s communist government always denies it has any prisoners of conscience, saying it imprisons only law violators.