Vietnamese Prison Officials Watch as Jailed RFA Blogger Meets With Lawyers to Prepare an Appeal

A Vietnamese RFA blogger serving a 10-year prison sentence a week ago met with three solicitors to get ready for his appellate trial, but one of the solicitors described the meeting as “uncomfortable,” because prison officials were watching them.

Truong Duy Nhat, who had previously been a weekly contributor to RFA’s Vietnamese Service before disappearing in January 2019, was sentenced to the lengthy jail term in March for “abusing his position and authority” in a decade-old land-fraud case.

“When we met Truong Duy Nhat last week, it had been a bit uncomfortable because two officials also attended our meeting with [him],” Truong’s lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service Monday.

Dang said that the three solicitors who visited Truong will undoubtedly be joined by four more in the appellate trial expected to convene soon.

“We discussed and questioned Truong about everything we needed. [He] said he is innocent and that it would be unlikely that he could have to admit his guilt at the appeals court,” said Dang.

Truong went missing in Bangkok in late January 2019 amid fears he previously been seized by Vietnamese agents. Two months later he was revealed to be under arrest in Hanoi.

He was charged by police investigators in July 2019 with “abusing his position” in a case relating to the sale of public land at an eventual loss to hawaii of over VND 13 billion (U.S. $560,000), a charge his lawyer described as controversial.

Dang said that at the meeting a week ago that his client claimed he is the victim of “a political hostile act.”

The charge was filed only after investigators failed to find adequate evidence to convict him on still another charge of illegally acquiring property, his wife and a family friend told RFA in an earlier in the day report.

Truong had earlier been jailed in Vietnam from 2013 to 2015 for his writings criticizing Vietnam’s government.

Dang said that as a direct result poor living conditions at the T16 prison, and because of the summer in the Hanoi area, his client has been unable to sleep and is coping with a skin irritation covering his human anatomy.

Facebook user faces trial on Tuesday

Meanwhile in Lam Dong province, in the south of the country, Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong will stand trial Tuesday for posting information on Facebook about sensitive and painful political and social problems.

Nguyen was arrested in September 2019 on charges of “making, storing, distributing, or disseminating information, documents, and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” in violation of Article 117 of Vietnam’s penal code. If convicted he could face a sentence of between five and 12 years.

His family has been unable to meet him since his arrest.

“[Penalties for] national security crimes tend to be designed to deter violators, so we don’t know if the sentence could be lowered or not,” Nguyen’s lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng told RFA.

The lawyer said that his client admitted to the violations, but said that his postings reflected his views about the social situation in Vietnam.

Nguyen frequently posted livestreamed comments regarding social problems in Vietnam and had contributed many blogposts about property enforcement, environment protests, plus “Chinese crimes” within Vietnam together with his 10,752 Facebook fans.

Human Rights Watch demanded that this Vietnamese authorities drop almost all charges plus release your pet immediately within an October 2019 declaration.

The 88 Project, an Illinois-based NGO that will tracks Vietnamese political criminals, last 30 days reported that will in 2019 an improving number of people have been arrested below Article 117.

“Many of those charged with this crime had no history of activism and were solely targeted for their peaceful expression online. Forty percent of the people arrested in 2019 were online commentators,” the NGO said.

Vietnam, having a population associated with 92 mil people, which 55 mil are approximated to become users associated with Facebook, continues to be consistently graded “not free” within the areas of web and push freedom simply by Freedom House, an Oughout.S.-based watchdog team.

Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation, plus authorities regularly use a group of vague procedures in the penal code to detain lots of writers plus bloggers.

Reported simply by RFA’h Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.