Blogger Bui Hieu Vo Jailed for “Conducting Anti-state Propaganda”

Blogger Bui Hieu Vo on the day of arrest last year

Defend the Defenders, May 9, 2018

On May 5, the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City convicted local blogger Bui Hieu Vo on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code, according to state media.

In the one-day first-instance hearing, the court sentenced him to four years and six months in prison. According to the current Vietnamese law, the penalty for the charge is between three and 12 years in prison.

State media reported that Mr. Bui Hieu Vo, 56, started his posts on his Facebook account “Hieu Bui” in 2015 which were harmful for the ruling communist party and its government. He was said to use the Formosa-caused environmental disaster in April 2016 and the land grabbing in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and other issues  to distort the policies of the party.

On March 17 last year, police in HCM City arrested him and searched his private residence, including his computer, and found 57 articles with bias content.

The blogger was reported to confess his “wrongdoings” and beg for mercy.

On March 23 last year, one week after the arrest of Bui Hieu Vo and Phan Kim Khanh, a blogger from Thai Nguyen, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Vietnamto immediately and unconditionally release the two bloggers. “If Vietnam wants to be considered a responsible member of the international community, it should stop treating journalists as criminals and punishing criticism as a crime against the state,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative.

Blogger Bui Hieu Vo has been the 20th activist being convicted so far this year.