Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Thuy, an editorial assistant with the independent Ba Sam blog, was first arrested by police at her home in the capital, Hanoi. She was later charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to impinge on the interests of the state,” an anti-state offense under article 258 of the penal code. On March 23, 2016, she was sentenced by Hanoi’s People’s Court to three years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to impinge on the interests of the state,” an anti-state offense under article 258 of the penal code.

In a one-day trial, Judge Nguyen Van Pho ruled that 24 articles in question had distorted the ruling Communist Party’s policies, reduced public trust in the party, and went against the interests of the nation, according to news reports. The articles appeared on two blogs, Dan Quyen (Citizen’s Rights) and Chep Su Viet (Writing Vietnamese History). It was not clear that Thuy had an editorial role at the blogs at the time of her arrest. The articles were also reposted on Ba Sam, the reports said.

The blogger’s lawyer, Ha Huy San, told The Associated Press before the ruling that both she and the blogs’ creator, Nguyen Huu Vinh, had denied the charges, claiming they had “no relation” to the postings in question. Ba Samposted links to state-run Vietnamese media, with critical commentary added by the blog’s administrators, as well as translated versions of international news on political, economic, and social issues, according to reports.

The site also published posts from activists and was considered a rallying point by activists for protests against China’s perceived encroachment on Vietnamese territories, news reports said. Thuy’s and Vinh’s arrest came just after China stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam in May 2014, setting off a months-long maritime standoff and anti-China riots.

Vinh, a former policeman and son of a Communist Party Central Committee member, announced in September 2012 that he would end his direct involvement with the blog due to increased pressure by the authorities, reports said. Due to frequent cyber-attacks against Ba Sam, the blog has appeared at different Web addresses, news reports said. The blog is still operational, through an administrator based in the United States, reports said.

On September 22, 2016, an appellate court ruled to uphold Thuy’s conviction and full prison sentence. Presiding judge Ngo Hong Phuc ruled that “the crimes committed are serious, obviously infringing on the interests of the state” and that the prison sentences were “well-founded, in line with regulations of the law,” reports said. Thuy maintained her innocence at the one-day trial, according to reports.

She was being held at Hanoi’s B-14 detention center.