Vietnamese journalist serving 5-year sentence loses appeal

A Vietnamese journalist who has been serving a five-year sentence for livestreaming videos on hot-button social and political issues lost his appeal of the conviction this week, said his wife, who only learned of the decision days later.

Le Trong Hung was arrested on March 27, 2021, after declaring his candidacy for a seat in the country’s National Assembly in a challenge to the ruling Communist Party. He was charged with “creating, storing, disseminating information, materials, items and publications against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” On Dec. 31, 2021, after a trial that lasted less than four hours, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

On Tuesday, authorities watched Hung’s house but didn’t inform her of the appeal, his wife Do Le Na told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“On April 19, I had no reason to go out of the house, and had no idea that my house was being watched. At 11 a.m., my son came home from school and told me that someone was watching our house,” she said.

“After lunch, a friend of Hung’s messaged me to ask if the appellate trial was being held that day,” Na said.

Hung’s friend told Na that his house was also under watch on April 19 and a security agent told him that the reason was because Hung’s appellate trial was on that day.

Na then searched for news about her husband online but could not find anything. It was not until Friday, when she came to the prison where her husband is being detained, that she was able to confirm news of the trial.

Hung, 79, is a former teacher and founder of CHTV Television, which formerly livestreamed videos on controversial social and political issues.

He was accused of violating Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, which has been widely used by authorities to arbitrarily detain journalists and critics.

The case against Hung was based on four videos posted to his Facebook page covering sensitive issues, including a deadly Jan. 9, 2020, police crackdown during a land dispute in Dong Tam Commune.

Translated by Chau Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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