Le Van Dung (Le Dung Vova)

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Vietnamese journalist Le Van Dung is serving a five-year prison sentence on an anti-state conviction for defaming the nation’s ruling Communist Party.

Dung, a freelance journalist who runs Chan Hung Nuoc Viet, a Facebook and YouTube-based outlet that covers politics, social issues, and alleged corruption, reported on land disputes and Vietnam’s delicate relations with China, a U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia report said.

Police arrested Dung on June 30, 2021, at a relative’s house outside of Hanoi after weeks in hiding while fleeing an arrest warrant, news reports said. 

He was held in pretrial detention until March 23, 2022, when the People’s Court of Hanoi convicted Dung in a two-hour trial 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 him to five years in prison and five subsequent years of probation, multiple news reports said.  

Dung, also known as Le Dung Vova, was convicted for videos he made and posted online from March 2017 to September 2018, which the court ruled had defamed the Communist Party administration, those reports said. His lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said Dung would appeal his conviction, reports said.

In March 2021, Dung told U.S. Congress-funded Voice of America’s Vietnamese service that he had been summoned by Hanoi police on several occasions for questioning about his journalism, though he failed to appear, according to news reports.

Chan Hung Nuoc Viet publishes on multiple Facebook pages, including one that has more than 12,000 followers and another that has been set to private or deleted. Dung also posted videos to the YouTube channel, Lê Dũng Vova Official, which has fewer than 200 subscribers.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment about Dung’s conviction, detention, and health in late 2022.