Nguyen Lan Thang

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Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Lan Thang is serving a six-year sentence on anti-state charges in retaliation for his critical news reporting. He was convicted in a one-day, closed trial in April 2023 after being held for nine months in pretrial detention.

Thang, a regular contributor to the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) 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.

Arrest and detention

Thang was arrested on July 5, 2022, in Hanoi, the national capital, according to news reports and Rohit Mahajan, RFA’s chief communications officer, who communicated with CPJ via email. 

Thang was held incommunicado until being charged in January 2023 under the penal code for his journalistic activities. Thang was not included on CPJ’s 2022 prison census because it was not clear at the time that the charges against him related to his journalism.  

On April 12, 2023, the Hanoi People’s Court convicted and sentenced Thang 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 six-year sentence also includes two years of probation.

RFA President Bay Fang said Thang’s conviction was “a miscarriage of justice and an assault on free expression in Vietnam” and called on authorities to drop the charges and immediately release him, RFA reported.

“The outrageous harassment he has endured and his sentencing to six years in prison demonstrate the extent to which Vietnamese authorities will go to silence independent journalists and voices,” Fang said in a statement.

Thang is serving his sentence at Prison No. 5 in Thanh Hoa province, according to The 88 Project, a rights group that monitors the status of Vietnamese political prisoners. 

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 detention sent in late 2023.