Blogger sentenced to five years in prison for 'smearing' state

By Pham Van   March 23, 2016 | 07:18 pm GMT+7
Blogger sentenced to five years in prison for 'smearing' state
Blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (nickname Anhbasam)
The People's Court of Hanoi sentenced blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (nickname Anhbasam) to five years imprisonment on March 23 for "smearing and distorting the truth of the state".

Accused of the same charge, Nguyen Minh Thuy was sentenced to three years in prison. The People's Court of Hanoi said that the two defendants had abused their democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State and the rights and legitimate interests of organizations and citizens under Clause 2, Article 258 of the Criminal Code.

According to the prosecution, Nguyen Huu Vinh was the manager of V-VPI Inspection and Protection LLC. After establishing the blogs "Dan Quyen" (People's Rights) and "Chep Su Viet" (Documenting Vietnam's History), Vinh provided the access passwords and shared some administrative authorities with Nguyen Minh Thuy, the company's accountant.

Vinh was said to have coerced Thuy into becoming his accomplice.

According to Judge Nguyen Van Pho, the defendants posted entries that smeared and defamed the state and jeopardized the development of society.

At the trial, the defendants denied the charge. Six lawyers representing Vinh and two of Thuy all requested acquittal for their clients.

Since its establishment in 2009, the "People's Rights" blog has posted 2,000 entries that have received 40,000 comments.

In 2014, the Ministry of Information and Communications concluded that 24 entries contained "false, unfounded information, distorting the lines and policies of the Party and the laws of the State, smearing individuals, affecting the reputation of agencies and organizations, offering a pessimistic view, causing confusion, anxiety, and affecting the trust of the masses in the country’s leaders."

The two blogs received 3.7 million views and many comments deemed negative, manipulated by the entries' point of view. Two of those were titled: "Corruption, Anti-Corruption and Institution", and "A Few Thoughts on the Current Situation and Mission".

Regarding other individuals linked to Vinh and Thuy, the authorities said they were not prosecuted due to the fact they had been exploited and did not know Vinh and Thuy's motives.

According to security agencies, Vinh and Thuy had been in contact with a Radio Free Asia correspondent, one of the people alleged to be "leading the anti-Vietnam forces in America" .

In September 2007, Vinh adopted the pen name Ba Sam (Talking Nonsense) for his blog on the former social media platform Yahoo 360. The blog often reposted articles from domestic online newspapers with commentary added by the blog's administrators, as well as translated versions of foreign news on political, economic and social issues.

 
 
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