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Jailed Vietnamese citizen journalist allowed to meet wife after secret hearing

Vietnamese citizen journalist and political prisoner Le Trong Hung was allowed to see his wife for the first time since his arrest more than a year ago, a 40-minute meeting last week, his wife told RFA. 

Born in 1979, Hung is known for livestreaming on Facebook and YouTube videos on controversial social and political issues, particularly land rights cases that have been at the center of controversies in Vietnam.

He was arrested in March 2021 on charges of “disseminating anti-State materials” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code shortly after nominating himself to run for Vietnam’s National Assembly elections in defiance of the ruling Communist Party and sentenced in December to five years in prison and five years of probation. 

Hung was able to see his family on April 22, three days after an appeal’s court in Hanoi upheld his sentence in a hearing that neither his lawyers nor his family were informed about in advance, said Hung’s wife, Do Le Na.

“My husband said that on April 19, the trial day, he was ‘kidnapped; and sent to the court. He did not agree to stand the trial as he hadn’t got a chance to see his lawyers,” she told RFA.

Her 40-minute meeting was closely monitored, Na added.

“They repeatedly reminded me and my husband not to mention the appeal trial,” she said. “They warned that our talk over the phone would be stopped and we would be kicked out if we talked about the trial.”

Na said that she would keep fighting for her husband.

“I myself will keep speaking up and reaching out to human rights organizations and civilized countries which pay attention to the human rights situation in Vietnam. I want to point out how my husband has been treated and expose all of the Vietnamese government’s wrongdoings.”

Before his candidacy, Hung was a chemistry teacher at Xa Dan junior high school in Hanoi, but he quit teaching after unsuccessfully petitioning for reforms to the educational system.

He had also participated in protests for environmental conservation, as well as sharing news about protests in Myanmar and the cases of other activists targeted by Vietnam’s government.

Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Nawar Nemeh.