Le Chi Quang, 32, was detained at an Internet café in the capital, Hanoi. He had written and posted several articles online criticizing government policy. According to Vietnamese authorities, officials at a popular domestic Internet service provider notified the Public Security Bureau that Quang had used computers at a specific Internet café in Hanoi to communicate with “reactionaries” living abroad. Security officials then tracked him down at the café.
On September 24, 2002, the state prosecutor’s office, known as the Supreme People’s Organ of Control, issued a document outlining specific charges against Quang. The document cites several articles by Quang as evidence of his “anti-government” activities, including an essay titled “Beware of Imperialist China,” which criticized land and sea border agreements between China and Vietnam; essays praising well-known dissidents Nguyen Thanh Giang and Vu Cao Quan; and an article about the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement.
On November 8, after a three-hour trial on national security charges, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Le Chi Quang to four years in prison followed by three years of house arrest. Quang was charged under articles 88 and 92 of the Criminal Code, which ban the distribution of information that opposes the government. Quang’s parents were the only observers allowed into the courtroom, and his lawyer was not allowed to present a defense before the court, according to CPJ sources. While the chief judge in the case told foreign reporters that Quang had pleaded guilty, CPJ sources said he admitted in court to having written the articles mentioned by the prosecution but denied committing any crime.
During Quang’s trial, about 100 family members and supporters gathered outside the courthouse. In December 2002, he was transferred to Sao Do Prison in Phu Ly, south of Hanoi.