Ahead of the trial of independent journalist and activist Nguyen Lan Thang, who was detained on “anti-state” charges in July 2022 after reporting on protests and human rights violations in Viet Nam, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said:
“For more than a decade, Nguyen Lan Thang has carried out crucial work documenting protests and human rights abuses in Viet Nam despite a worsening climate of retribution aimed at those who criticize the state. His peaceful activism and reporting should be welcomed as part of legitimate public debate, but instead he is facing years in prison.
“Nguyen Lan Thang’s trial shows that the Vietnamese authorities are silencing those producing content deemed ‘unfavourable’ as they seek to ensure subservience to the state. His lack of adequate access to a lawyer and family visits are a further stain on a deeply flawed and unfair trial.
“Viet Nam continues to make a mockery of its position on the UN Human Rights Council by violating the human rights of its people. All charges against Nguyen Lan Thang should be dropped and, along with all other journalists, activists and state critics jailed under the overly broad Article 117, he should be immediately released.”
On 05 July 2022, activist and independent journalist Nguyen Lan Thang was arrested and charged with “making, storing, distributing, or disseminating information, documents, and items against the State” under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code, which Viet Nam has used to arrest at least 32 people, including human rights defenders and journalists, since 2019.
Since then, he has been denied regular family visits and was only permitted to meet his lawyer on 16 February — seven months after his initial arrest. According to his lawyer, Lan Thang’s trial will take place on 12 April in a closed-court session, with only his wife and lawyer allowed to attend. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
Lan Thang stands accused by the Vietnamese authorities of posting 12 “anti-state” videos on Facebook and YouTube and storing books that allegedly defame the Vietnamese Communist Party.
*An earlier version of this quote misstated the maximum number of years that Nguyen Lan Thang is facing if convicted under the existing charge. It is 12 years, not 20.