Vietnamese journalist who is RSF laureate gets nine years in prison

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the nine-year jail sentence that Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese journalist who was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2019, received today after 434 days in arbitrary detention. This sentence gags a leading fighter for press freedom in Vietnam and the world, RSF said.

In a trial before a Hanoi people’s court that took just a few hours, Pham Doan Trang was convicted of “anti-state propaganda” under article 117 of Vietnam’s penal code. The prosecution requested a jail term of seven to eight years, but Judge Chu Phuong Ngoc gave her nine years on the grounds that her behaviour was “dangerous for society” and was carried out with the “intention of violating the socialist system.”


“The lame arguments offered by the Hanoi court as grounds for this sentence fool no one,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “This is political justice carried out on the ruling party’s orders with the sole aim of punishing a journalist just for trying to inform her fellow citizens. We urge the international community to impose targeted sanctions on the Vietnamese officials responsible for Pham Doan Trang’s unacceptable fate, in order to obtain her immediate release.”


International campaign


Arrested at her Ho Chi Minh City home on the night of 6 October 2020, Trang was held incommunicado for more than a year until 19 October 2021, when she was transferred to a detention centre ahead of her trial, which was originally set for 4 November but was postponed at the last minute, a few days after eight UN experts issued a joint statement on 25 October calling for her release.


RSF launched an international campaign for her release immediately after her arrest. It include a compilation of videos in which Vietnamese journalists and bloggers living outside Vietnam expressed their support for Trang.


In another video released in April of this year, RSF press freedom laureates based in countries around the world, including Poland, Turkey, India and the Philippines, delivered statements designed to draw international attention to the fate of Trang and Vietnam’s journalists in general.


According to RSF’s press freedom violations barometer, which is constantly updated, a record number of 43 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in Vietnam.


Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

Published on
Updated on 14.12.2021