Pham Doan Trang

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Police arrested Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang in Ho Chi Minh City on October 6, 2020. She was charged the same day with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 and Article 117 of the country’s criminal code and is awaiting trial.

Trang covers human rights-related issues, including police abuses, for the Luat Khoa legal magazine, which she founded, and for the independent English-language The Vietnamese news website, according to news reports.

Major General To An Xo, a Ministry of Public Security spokesperson, said that Trang was transferred from Ho Chi Minh City to the capital Hanoi pending an investigation, according to news reports and a statement posted on the Ministry of Public Security’s website. Police seized documents and equipment during her arrest, those reports said. 

Trang was being held at Hoa Lo Prison in late 2020, according to The 88 Project, an advocacy group that monitors the status of Vietnamese political prisoners. Convictions under Article 117 carry jail terms of up to 20 years.

Before her arrest, Trang wrote on her personal Facebook page that she had faced persistent police harassment in relation to her work from September 2019 to February 2020, Radio Free Asia reported

Trang wrote a letter in May 2019 in case she was ever arrested, republished by The 88 Project, which stated that said she stood by her work and would not plead guilty in a future case against her. 

In 2018, Trang went into hiding after being assaulted by police during interrogations, CPJ documented at the time. She has also spent time abroad in self-exile after facing official harassment, CPJ documented in a 2014 special report on her situation.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment about Trang’s status and treatment in prison in late 2020.