Vietnam jails man for inciting protests in wake of notorious toxic spill

By Hung Le   November 27, 2017 | 12:03 am PT
Vietnam jails man for inciting protests in wake of notorious toxic spill
Nguyen Van Hoa, 22, stands trial in Ha Tinh Province on Monday with accusations of conducting anti-state propaganda. Photo by VnExpress
He was found guilty of 'complicating public security' by posting anti-government material during the Formosa disaster.

A court in the central province of Ha Tinh sentenced a man to seven years in jail on Monday for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, an offense that has resulted in many people being put behind bars in the country this year.

Nguyen Van Hoa, 22, was found guilty of sharing notes, videos and images against the government on social media between 2013 and 2017.

Prosecutors said he had sent several stories with distorted information about the Vietnamese government overseas to seek funding for his anti-state campaign.

Following a toxic spill caused by Taiwanese steel plant Formosa in central Vietnam in early 2016, he published several videos aimed at igniting local protests, which “complicated public security in the region,” authorities said.

The pollution, first reported in April 2016, has been named the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history, damaging 125 miles of coastline in Ha Tinh and three nearby provinces to a level from which the region may need a decade to recover, according to the environment ministry. Formosa agreed to pay $500 million in compensation in June last year.

Hoa was arrested in April this year. He will be placed under house arrest for three years after completing his jail term.

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code, anti-government propaganda is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail. The country has sent several people to prison this year for such offense.

Last month, Vietnam sentenced 24-year-old Phan Kim Khanh to six years in jail for posting “fabricated” information on social media with the help of the U.S.-based group Viet Tan, an organization Vietnam has declared a terrorist group. Khanh was arrested in March.

In July, blogger Tran Thi Nga, 40, was sentenced to nine years in prison for posting anti-state propaganda videos on the internet.

The month before, blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who was arrested in October 2016, received a 10-year sentence for publishing what authorities called distorted stories and videos about the Communist Party and the government on Facebook.

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