Police stand guard in front of a billboard for the Communist Party of Vietnam's 13th National Congress in Hanoi on January 26, 2021. (AFP/Nhac Nguyen)

Vietnam sentences independent reporter Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu to 8 years in prison

Bangkok, April 26, 2021 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today strongly condemned the conviction and severe prison sentence given to Vietnamese journalist Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu and called for her immediate and unconditional release.

On April 23, the People’s Court in Phu Yen province convicted Dieu under Article 117 of the penal code, an anti-state provision that bans “creating, storing and disseminating information and materials” against the state, and sentenced her to eight years in prison, according to news reports

Dieu, a former state newspaper reporter who as an independent journalist posted news and commentary on Facebook at “Tuyet Dieu Babel” “and “Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu Journalist” (which has been taken down), and the YouTube channel “Tuyet Dieu Tran,” was convicted in relation to 25 news stories and nine videos deemed to be anti-state, news reports said.

“Vietnamese authorities should reverse this outrageously harsh sentencing of independent reporter Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu and immediately and unconditionally set her free,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Vietnam must stop treating journalists as criminals and allow them to report freely without fear of cruel and unusual punishment.”

Dieu was first arrested on August 21, 2020, and held in pretrial detention until her court hearing, according to CPJ research. Her lawyer, Nguyen Kha Thanh, said she pleaded innocent to the charges and that the trial lasted only three hours, news reports said. It was not immediately clear from the reports if Dieu plans to appeal the conviction. CPJ could not immediately locate contact information for Thanh.

Dieu’s reports on Facebook and YouTube covered socio-economic topics including corruption, the environment, and human rights, according to The 88 Project, an advocacy group that monitors the status of Vietnamese political prisoners.

The Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on Dieu’s conviction sent through its website.

Vietnam is among the worst jailers of journalists worldwide, with at least 15 behind bars at the time of CPJ’s annual prison census on December 1, 2020.