Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Peaceful Posts, 5th Facebooker Convicted So Far in 2020

Facebooker Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong


Defend the Defenders, July 7, 2020


On July 7, the People’s Court of Lam Dong province convicted local Facebooker Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong 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, Defend the Defenders has learned.

During the short first-instance hearing lasting only a few hours, the court sentenced him to eight years in prison and three years of probation for using his Facebook account Vượng Nguyễn to conduct 98 video live streams and posted 366 status updates, amounting to content that distorts the regime and defames the communist leadership.

Nguyen Quoc Doanh, an older brother of Vuong, said the local authorities sent uniformed policemen and plainclothes agents to the areas near his family several days prior to the trial date in order to block the family’s members to attend the hearing. So Vuong’s family has learned about the court’s decision from his lawyer’s SMS.

In recent time, prior to the trial, authorities in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong said there are increasing activities of reactionary forces in the locality while the ruling party is preparing for its local and National Congress slated for January next year, so they would punish Mr. Vuong hardly to silence others. And the outcome of the trial has proved it.

Mr. Vuong, born in 1991, was arrested on September 23, 2019. He was kept incommunicado during the investigation period and was permitted to meet his lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng nearly a month before the trial to prepare for his defense.

Vuong is a human rights activist. He participated in the mass demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018 in which tens of thousands of people from different social groups rallied on streets to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. He was detained and fined VND750,000 ($32) before being released.

So far this year, the communist regime has sentenced seven activists to total 26 years in prison and six years of probation. Two other Facebookers Nguyen Van Nghiem and Phan Cong Hai were sentenced to six and five years, respectively, also under the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code. Two other Facebookers named Chung Hoang Chuong and Ma Phung Ngoc Phu were convicted of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 and sentenced to 18 months and nine months in jail, respectively.

As many as 12 other activists, including prominent journalists Pham Chi Dung and Nguyen Tuong Thuy, the president and the vice president of the unregistered Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, are held and investigated on the same accusation.