Facebooker Cao Van Dung Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Online Anti-regime Posts

Mr. Cao Van Dung at his trial on June 9, 2021

Defend the Defenders, June 9, 2021


Vietnam’s state media has reported that on June 9, the People’s Court of Quang Ngai province found a local resident named Cao Van Dung guilty of “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Dung, 53, was reportedly sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of probation as the judge decided that from February 2019 he used his Facebook account “Dung Caovan” for writing and sharing many statuses with the content harmful for the regime and affects social orders.

He was said to have formed an online secret group named “Brotherhood for democracy and human rights for Vietnamese.” His hard sentence was likely also due to his participation in the mass demonstration on June 10, 2018 where tens of thousands of people gathered on streets in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities in the southern and central regions to protest the Cyber Security and the Special Economic Zones bills.

It is unclear when Mr. Dung was arrested. It is unknown Mr. Dung had legal assistance during his pre-trial detention and the first-instance hearing.

His conviction is the second within a week. One week earlier, the People’s Court of the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang sentenced Facebooker Dang Hoang Minh to seven years in prison followed by two years of probation. Mr. Minh was said to have posted numerous statuses on his Facebook account with the content harmful for the regime.

Vietnam’s authoritarian regime strictly controls the media and persecutes independent journalists and bloggers. Dozens of Facebookers and bloggers have been imprisoned while others are under regular harassment. The country has been placed in the groups of the countries in the bottom of the Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for many years. In 2020, it was ranked 175th among 180 countries in the index.

In early 2021, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Vietnam is among the world biggest prisons for journalists, with 12 journalists and Facebookers being imprisoned.

According to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics, Vietnam is holding at least 262 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi alway denies, saying it has jailed only law violators.