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August 18, 2017 - Updated on September 19, 2017

RSF calls for release of Vietnamese blogger about to go on trial

Nguyen Van Oai calls for the release of jailed pro-democracy lawyer Nguyen Van Dai. photo : Viet Tan
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nguyen Van Oai, a dissident blogger who is due to be tried in the central province of Nghe An on 21 August. It will be his second trial in four years.

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Update:

At the end of a trial lasting just four hours, Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Oai was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison followed by four years of house arrest. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this disgraceful sentence and supports his desire to appeal.

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Oai has already been held for the past seven months, ever since his arrest in Nghe An province on 19 January for allegedly resisting officials and for leaving his home without permission while on probation.


Previously arrested in 2011, Oai was tried and sentenced in 2013 under penal code article 79 to four years in prison plus three years of home surveillance because of his alleged links with the Viet Tan, a US-based pro-democracy group regarded by the Vietnamese government as a terrorist organization.


Oai was an active blogger on social networks, writing about such sensitive issues as political prisoners and social injustice on his Facebook page. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled in 2013 that his detention was arbitrary and violated international standards.


“Nguyen Van Oai is one those outspoken citizens who use new technology to protest against Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party and its policies,” RSF said. “The charges against him are just a pretext for putting a stop to online posts that annoy the regime. We call on the judicial authorities in Nghe An province to free this blogger unconditionally, because he has committed no crime.”


The authorities have provided no information about the trial scheduled for 21 August, which suggests that it will be a summary procedure similar to those used to sentence the blogger Tran Thi Nga to nine years in prison in July, and the blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to ten years in prison in a secret trial in June.


These judicial travesties are part of an overall offensive that the one-party state is currently waging against dissidents. The victims include Pham Minh Hoang, who was expelled in June after being stripped of his Vietnamese nationality. In all, at least 20 activists have been arrested or harassed in some way since the start of the year.


RSF joins those who are using the hashtag #FreeNguyenVanOai on social networks to rally support for a campaign for Oai’s release.


Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.