Reporters Without Borders condemns the 15-month jail sentence that a Hanoi court passed today on the dissident blogger Pham Viet Dao for “creating a bad image of the Communist Party and the government” in a total of 91 blog posts.
“This latest conviction shows that government is going all-out in its persecution of news providers,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Desk. “We call for Dao’s immediate release as he was convicted just for wanting to inform his compatriots and share his political views online.”
Arrested in Hanoi on 13 June 2013, Dao was convicted under article 258 of the penal code, which punishes misuse of “democratic freedoms to attack state interests and the legitimate rights and interests of collectives and citizens.”
Hounded for months prior to his arrest, he said in December 2012 he had “not violated the law on information” because he was a “member of the Association of Vietnamese Writers and the Association of Vietnamese Journalists.” He added that if the state permitted the creation of these associations, “it must be responsible for our protection.”
After studying in Romania, where he obtained a literature degree, Dao worked for the culture ministry’s cinema department. He headed the culture ministry’s Press and Publications Inspection Bureau before retiring in June 2012.
Now aged 62, Dao had become increasingly critical of the government in his blogging. His blog, phamvietdao3.blogspot.com, was the target of repeated cyber-attacks and was forced offline by an attack in March 2012. He relaunched it only to see it blocked again before his arrest in June 2013.
Ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Vietnam is also on the Reporters Without Borders list of Enemies of the Internet because of its relentless hounding of bloggers and cyber-dissidents.
Sign the Reporters Without Borders petition calling for the release of the 35 bloggers currently jailed in Vietnam.