Investigative reporter jailed for 'abusing democratic freedoms'

By Thao Mi   April 5, 2022 | 08:00 pm PT
Investigative reporter jailed for 'abusing democratic freedoms'
Former reporter Nguyen Hoai Nam, 49, stands before the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court, April 5, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Thao Mi
The HCMC People's Court sentenced a reporter to three and a half years in jail on Tuesday for "baseless attacks" online on some government officials.

At his trial on Tuesday it found Nguyen Hoai Nam, 49, guilty of "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State and lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens."

Nam had pleaded not guilty, but the court found the evidence convincing.

In 2018, while working as a reporter for a newspaper in HCMC, he wrote several stories about violations at the Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration and sent documents to the Ministry of Public Security for investigation.

He posted several of his articles on Facebook and criticized the police’s investigation into the case, saying 15 people had committed violations, and not three as claimed by the police.

He accused the investigators of "letting the criminals off the hook."

The HCMC Department of Information and Communication said Nam’s posts on Facebook affected the reputation of some police and other officials.

He put up a spirited defense saying posting his articles on Facebook was not illegal.

"Facebook is a tool to inform the public. I fought for the state, not for any person. I wrote articles with evidence, so it cannot be said that I lied or fabricated things."

Prosecutors said his actions "negatively affected social security and order," and recommended a jail term of four to five years.

The court said it would show leniency and give him 3.5 years due to him "having good background and having won many merits and awards as a journalist."

Nam denied the accusation that his actions negatively affected social security and order, and demanded further investigation into his case.

He was a reporter for several newspapers like Thanh Nien (Youth), Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law), Vietnam Television, and Phap Luat Viet Nam (Vietnam Law).

He was a feted investigative reporter who busted several criminal cases involving government entities and crime rings and received accolades and merit certificates from government agencies for them.

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