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Vietnamese Facebooker sentenced to 4 years in prison for anti-state propaganda

By Hai Duyen   February 1, 2018 | 07:39 pm PT
Doctor Ho Van Hai was found guilty of posting articles slandering and distorting the Party and state's policies.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday sentenced a Vietnamese doctor to four years in prison and two years of probation for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

Ho Van Hai, 54, was found guilty of writing and posting articles against the Party and the state on his Facebook page "Ho Hai" and his blog "BS Ho Hai."

According to the indictment, Hai opened the blog and Facebook account in 2009 to post articles discussing social, economic and political topics in Vietnam and around the world.

Hai at the trial on February 1, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Binh Nguyen.

Ho Van Hai is escorted outside a HCMC court on February 1, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Binh Nguyen.

In 2015, he allegedly took advantage of important social and political issues at the time to post articles slandering and distorting the policies of the Party and the state.

Prosecutors said he had called for people to join protests against Taiwanese steel plant Formosa over a toxic spill in central Vietnam in early 2016, as well as to participate in civil disobedience campaigns and to boycott local People's Council elections.

Out of the 75 articles Hai had posted on the internet or stored on his personal computer, authorities determined that 36 articles had violated Vietnam's internet regulations.

Police arrested Hai at his private clinic in Thu Duc District in November 2016, after having monitored his activities for some time.

At the trial on Thursday, Hai confessed to the charges.

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

Last November, 22-year-old Nguyen Van Hoa was sentenced to 7 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 the U.S.-based group Viet Tan, an organization Vietnam has declared a terrorist group.

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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