Le Trong Hung

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Vietnamese journalist Le Trong Hung was arrested in March 2021 and was sentenced that December to five years in prison on anti-state charges. A court ruled that his reporting for an online outlet that he co-founded had infringed on national security.

Authorities arrested Hung at his home in Hanoi on March 27, 2021, according to news reports. Hung reports under the pseudonym “Hung Gan” for Chen Hung Nuoc Viet (CHTV), a Facebook- and YouTube-based outlet that he co-founded, according to those reports, which noted that he is also a political activist and was arrested after nominating himself as a National Assembly candidate on his Facebook page.

Hung was held in pretrial detention until December 31, 2021, when he was convicted under Article 117 of the penal code, a provision that bars “making, storing, distributing, or spreading” news or information against the state, news reports said. He was sentenced to five years in prison to be followed by five years of probation, according to those reports.

The court ruled that Hung’s reporting on CHTV had infringed on national security, defamed the government, caused instability, and affected “public confidence in the political institution and state,” reports said.

CHTV covers politics, social issues, and alleged corruption on multiple Facebook pages, including one that had more than 12,000 followers and another that has been set to private or deleted. The independent outlet also broadcasts over YouTube.

Hung worked at the outlet for about four years before his arrest, according to a report citing his wife, Do Le Na. She wrote on her Facebook page before and after a June 18, 2022, prison visit that Hung suffers from eye and skin conditions.

His conviction was upheld at an April 19, 2022, appeal trial that was held without his lawyers, reports said.

In her Facebook posts, his wife wrote that Hung considers his imprisonment “illegal” and planned to appeal his conviction again.

On May 25, 2022, Hung was transferred from Hanoi’s Detention Center No. 1 to Nghe An province’s Detention Center No. 1, approximately 220 miles (355 km) from his home, making family prison visits more difficult, U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia reported

Authorities also arrested CHTV cofounder Le Van Dung on June 30, 2021. Dung was sentenced to five years in prison under Article 117 on March 23, 2022, according to news reports

On September 3, 2023, Hung went on a hunger strike to demand that his appeal trial be reopened with a lawyer and family members present, according to a post on his wife’s Facebook page and news reports

He ended the strike in October after more than a month of fasting and losing 11 kg (24 pounds), according to an October 16 Facebook post by his wife. She wrote that he was “slowly recovering” from the strike. 

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed requests for comment about Hung’s conviction, or his health or treatment in prison.