Independent TV journalist sentenced to five years in prison in Vietnam
Le Trong Hung, a Vietnamese journalist who often covered corruption for the independent social media TV news channel he helped to found, was sentenced today to five years in prison on a charge of “anti-state propaganda.” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demands his immediate release and insists that his conviction is overturned.
It took a Hanoi people’s tribunal less than two hours to try Le Trong Hung this morning. Pro-government media said he was convicted under article 117 of Vietnam’s penal code, which criminalises “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and other material opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” He was also sentenced to five years of probation on completion of his jail sentence.
By way of propaganda, Hung had worked for the past four years for Chen Hung Viet Nam TV (CHTV), the social media TV channel of which he was one of the founders. Its name means “Vietnam Renaissance TV.” Under the pseudonym of Hung Gan, he often reported on cases of corruption and illegal expropriation, providing legal information designed to help the victims.
Hung had been detained arbitrarily for nine months prior to today’s trial, ever since his arrest at his Hanoi home on 27 March on the orders of the feared Cong an Nhan Dan, the People’s Public Security force. He was not allowed to see his lawyer until 22 November and his wife was barred from attending the trial.
“Le Trong Hung’s shocking five-year prison sentence has yet again highlighted the Vietnamese justice system’s complete lack of independence and the way the courts limit themselves to carrying out the ruling Communist Party’s edicts,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The current government shamelessly violates article 25 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s constitution, which loudly proclaims freedom of the press. This abysmal contempt for the rule of law must end.”
Hung is the second CHTV co-founder to fall victim to the Vietnamese regime’s crackdown on press freedom. Le Van Dung, who was one of its presenters, was arrested last June, as RSF reported at the time.
The annual round-up of abusive treatment and violence against journalists that RSF published last week reported that Vietnam is the world’s third biggest jailer of journalists and bloggers, with a total of 44 currently held for trying to provide freely reported news and information.
Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.