Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Lan Thang works at a cafe in Hanoi on November 27, 2013. Thang was convicted on anti-state charges and sentenced to six years in prison on April 12, 2023. (Reuters/Kham)

Vietnam sentences journalist Nguyen Lan Thang to 6 years in prison

Bangkok, April 13, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned the sentencing of imprisoned Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Lan Thang to six years in prison on anti-state charges in relation to his reporting on human rights issues in the country.

“The harsh sentence handed to journalist Nguyen Lan Thang is an outrage and must be immediately and unconditionally reversed,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Vietnam must stop treating independent journalists like enemies of the state.”

On Wednesday, April 12, the Hanoi People’s Court convicted and sentenced Thang in a one-day, closed trial to six years in prison under the penal code’s Article 117, a provision that outlaws “creating, storing, disseminating or propagandizing information, materials, items and publications” against the state, according to multiple news reports. His sentence includes two years of probation.

Thang, a regular contributor to the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia since 2013, was charged for posting 12 interviews on YouTube and his Facebook account, which has over 157,000 followers. Thang frequently reported on issues including freedom of religion and land confiscations.

Only four defense lawyers and Thang’s wife, Le Bich Vuong, were allowed inside the courtroom during the trial, RFA reported.

Thang is among four RFA contributors currently imprisoned in Vietnam, the outlet said in an April 12 statement condemning Thang’s sentencing.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment on Thang’s conviction.

Vietnam was holding 21 journalists behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual prison census on December 1, 2022. That figure did not include Thang, as CPJ could not confirm whether his arrest was related to his journalism at the time.