Four Members of “Clean Newspaper” Being Probed for Allegation Related to State Secret

Four jailed members of the Clean Newspaper group

Defend the Defenders, June 21, 2021

Vietnam’s state-controlled media has reported that authorities in the Mekong Delta hub of Can Tho will launch an investigation against four members of the Báo Sạch (Clean Newspaper” on the allegation of “Deliberate disclosure of classified information; appropriation, trading, destruction of classified documents” under Article 337 of the Criminal Code with potential imprisonment of up to 15 years in prison and an administrative fine of up to VND100 million ($4,200).

Mr. Truong Chau Huu Danh was arrested on December 17 last year while Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nha, Mr. Doan Kien Giang, and Mr. Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao were arrested on April 20 this year. The four bloggers were initially charged with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code with potential imprisonment of up to seven years if convicted.

According to the state-controlled media, in May, the police in Can Tho completed the investigation on the initial charge and sent the investigation results to the city’s People’s Procuracy with a proposal to prosecute them. However, the procuracy returned the case to the police and requested further investigation for the second charge.

The probe for the second allegation came as the Can Tho’s police reported that they have found a number of state secret documents while searching the private residence of Mr. Danh.

Mr. Danh and other members of the Clean Newspaper group are among those voicing social incidents including the deadly land dispute in Dong Tam in Hanoi in which Vietnam’s authorities sent around 3,000 riot policemen to attack the local land petitioners in early morning of January 9, 2020 to kill communal leader Le Dinh Kinh and arrested 30 of them, and the legal miscarriage of Ho Duy Hai who was found guilty of killing two post workers in 2009 despite lacks of solid evidence against him and a number of wrongdoings of the Long An state agencies includign the police and procuracy.

The arrests of the four members of the group has been condemned by many international rights and professional groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Amnesty International as well as Human Rights Watch (HRW) while the US said their detention is part of the concerning persecution tendency. They have called on Vietnam’s authoritarian regime to free them and others who were arrested arbitrarily and allow all the citizens to express their opinions freely without fear of being prosecuted.