Le The Thang

Beats Covered:
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Vietnamese photojournalist Le The Thang was arrested by police on July 6, 2021, as part of an investigation into anti-state charges against the independent Bao Sach (Clean Newspaper) Facebook-based news outlet. Thang is serving a three-year sentence on an anti-state conviction for his journalism.

On October 28, 2021, a Can Tho court convicted Thang and four other journalists from Bao Sach under Article 331 of the penal code, which criminalizes “abusing democratic rights and freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” according to news reports

The court ruled that Thang and the other journalists, Truong Chau Huu Danh, Nguyen Phouc Trung Bao, Doan Kien Giang, and Nguyen Thanh Nha, published distorted information and defamed the government, according to those reports and CPJ’s coverage.

Bao Sach, which was deactivated after Danh’s arrest in December 2020, had more than 100,000 followers, as CPJ documented at the time. The outlet, which covered corruption and other topics, had published stories on protests over alleged illegal toll collectors on local highway systems and posted images of government officials arrested over their suspected involvement in such a scheme, according to news reports and CPJ documentation.

Thang was in charge of video editing, recording videos, and maintaining Bao Sach’s YouTube news channel, according to a state-run Thanh Nien report. 

The October 28 ruling also banned all five from working as journalists for three years after serving their sentences, reports said. 

On January 27, 2022, the People’s Court of Can Tho upheld Thang’s and the four other journalists’ convictions and sentences after a two-day trial, news reports said. The ruling also upheld their ban on practicing journalism after serving their prison terms.  

CPJ was unable to determine where Thang was being detained in late 2023. Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment about Thang’s conviction and his health and treatment in prison sent in late 2023.