Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Phouc Trung Bao was arrested by police on April 20, 2021, as part of a police 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 the Bao Sach (Clean Newspaper) news outlet 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.
Bao and the other journalists, Truong Chau Huu Danh, Doan Kien Giang, Le The Thang, and Nguyen Thanh Nha, worked for Bao Sach, a Facebook-based independent outlet that the court ruled 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 November 17, 2021, the People’s Court of Thoi Lai district, Can Tho city confirmed that the five Bao Sach journalists had appealed their convictions, according to a state-run Tuoi Tre report.
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 2021.