Independent Blogger Le Anh Hung Arrested, Charged with “Abusing Democratic Freedom”

Blogger Le Anh Hung with banner accusing communist leader Nguyen Phu Trong and Politburo member Hoang Trung Hai of betraying Vietnam

Defend the Defenders, July 5, 2018

 

On July 5, Vietnam’s authorities arrested independent blogger Le Anh Hung and charged him with “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

Police also searchedhis mother’s house in Kim Giang commune, Hoang Mai district, Hanoi, according to independent journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, who is also a former political prisoner.

In the late afternoon on July 5th, the Investigation Agency under the Hanoi Department of Public Security confirmed the arrest, saying he is held in the Temporary detention facility No. 2 under the authority of the department.

According to the current Vietnamese Criminal Procedure Code, Mr. Hung, 45, will be held in the next three months for investigation. He will face imprisonment of up to seven years in prison if is convicted.

Mr. Hung filed his letter 139 timesto state agencies to denunciate General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and Hoang Trung Hai, Politburo member of the party and secretary of the party in the capital city, forcooperating with China andbetraying the nation.

Hung is a regular political writer for Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) as well as British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in their Vietnamese programs. He and Mr. Nguyen Vu Binh are the key figures of the Đài Phát thanh Việt Nam(Vietnam Broadcasting Radio), in addition to being member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN).

Due to his denunciations against high-profile state officials and participation in peaceful protests against China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea, he was detained and interrogated many times in recent years.

In late January 2013, he was arrested and sent to a mental clinics but released two weeks later after he and his wife Phuong Anh accused Hoang Trung Hai, then deputy prime minister, ofinvolvementin drug trafficking.

In order to keep the country under a one-party regime, the Vietnamese communist government has intensified crackdown on local dissent. It has arrested and imprisoned over 50 activists in recent years.

Mr. Hung has been the 6th activist being detained so far this year. Other include anti-corruption blogger Do Cong Duong and two Facebookers Nguyen Duy Son and Nguyen Van Quang, apro-democracy campaigner Nguyen Trung Linh and Vu Van Hung, former prisoner of conscience and member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. The first two were charged with Article 331 while Mr. Quang was accused of ” Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code. Mr. Linh was arrested by Hanoi police in late May but his situation is unknown while Mr. Hung was arrested on January 4 and convicted of “inflicting injuries” in a trumped-up politically case with sentence of one year in prison.

Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists. At least 10 journalists were behind bars in Vietnam as of December 1, 2017, according to Committee to Protect Journalists.