Five jailed for 'abusing democratic freedom' on Facebook

By Cuu Long   October 28, 2021 | 05:33 am PT
Five jailed for 'abusing democratic freedom' on Facebook
Truong Chau Huu Danh, Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao, Doan Kien Giang and Nguyen Thanh Nha stand before the Thoi Lai District People's Court in Can Tho, October 28, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long
Five Can Tho residents were sentenced to varying jail terms Thursday after being found guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms” by posting false information on the Internet.

Truong Chau Huu Danh, 39, was sentenced to four years and six months in jail by the Thoi Lai District People’s Court in the southern city for abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens.

Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao, Doan Kien Giang, Nguyen Thanh Nha and Le The Thang, aged 36-41, were sentenced to two-three years in jail each on the same charges.

All five were banned from working as journalists for three years.

In August 2019, the five created a group called "Bao Sach" (Clean Journalism) with a Facebook fanpage and a YouTube channel. They wrote several articles regarding on the hot topics of that time.

Authorities said their articles "masqueraded as anti-corruption journalistic works, but were in fact corruption itself."

The court said that while Danh and his accomplices did not use words or images that were explicitly "harmful", the manner in which they presented their articles made their readers believe what they were saying was true. Many readers reacted, commented and shared the posts, using defamatory terms and other vulgar words to describe certain people and organizations, the court noted.

Therefore, the defendants intended to invite people to badmouth the ways and initiatives of Vietnam's Communist Party and the State, the court found.

Prosecutors said the group’s actions had severely impacted the reputation of leaders of the Party and the State, sowing confusion and doubts among the people and causing disruptions in society.

Danh was arrested at the end of last year, and the other four soon left the group. They were eventually detained and investigated.

At the trial, Danh acknowledged that his posts had been "subjective, one-sided and not backed by evidence." He said he wanted to "reflect the state of society and wish to contribute and do good," but he was not able to stop the negative reactions.

Danh also said he was accepting the main responsibility for the group’s actions. He apologized to individuals and organizations impacted by his actions. His four accomplices also admitted their fault and requested the court for lenient sentences so they could return to their families.

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