Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Phouc Trung Bao was arrested by police on April 20, 2021, as part of an investigation into anti-state charges against the independent Bao Sach (Clean Newspaper) Facebook-based news outlet. Bao is serving a two-year sentence on an anti-state conviction for his journalism.
On October 28, 2021, a Can Tho court convicted Bao 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 Bao and the other journalists, Truong Chau Huu Danh, Doan Kien Giang, Le The Thang, 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 recently 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.
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, after a two-day trial, the People’s Court of Can Tho upheld Bao’s and the other four journalists’ convictions and sentences, news reports said. The ruling also upheld the ban against them practicing journalism after serving their prison terms, reports said.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment about Bao’s conviction and treatment in prison in late 2022.