Vietnamese Facebooker gets 4.5 years in prison for anti-state propaganda

By Hai Duyen   May 9, 2018 | 06:49 pm PT
Vietnamese Facebooker gets 4.5 years in prison for anti-state propaganda
Vietnam convicted a Facebooker on Wednesday for defaming government officials and inciting terrorism on his page. Photo by Reuters
He was accused of making 49 Facebook posts which contained false information about the Party and incited violence.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday sentenced a Vietnamese man to four years and six months in prison for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

Bui Hieu Vo, 56, was found guilty of posting articles criticizing the Party and the state's policies, defaming government officials and inciting terrorism on his Facebook page, "Hieu Bui."

According to the indictment, Vo had been posting the articles since 2016 regarding the compensation he was paid by authorities in the southern town of Vung Tau for land reclamation and a toxic spill caused by Taiwanese steel plant Formosa in central Vietnam that same year.

Prosecutors said Vo's articles had caused public confusion, and to avoid detection he later transferred the Facebook account to Hoang Thi Kim Anh, a member of the U.S.-based group Viet Tan living in Australia. Vietnam has declared Viet Tan a terrorist organization.

In March last year, Ho Chi Minh City police searched Vo's house in Go Vap District and seized 70 documents and Facebook articles stored on his computer. Among the documents, 49 defamed the Party and state officials, contained false information and incited violence, the indictment said.

At the trial, Vo admitted to his crime and asked the court for leniency.

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code, anti-government propaganda is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Several people were sent to prison last year for the offense.

In February, a Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced Facebooker Ho Van Hai, 54, to four years in jail for posting articles slandering and distorting the policies of the Party and the state on his Facebook page and blog.

Last November, 22-year-old Nguyen Van Hoa was sentenced to seven years in jail for sharing notes, videos and images against the government on social media.

The month before, Vietnam sentenced 24-year-old Phan Kim Khanh to six years in jail for posting “fabricated” information on social media with the help of Viet Tan.

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

A month before Nga's trial, 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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