Authorities in Vietnam have rejected petition letters calling for an investigation into legal proceedings against detained blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who is serving an 11-year sentence for writing articles online that criticized Vietnam’s one-party communist government, his family told RFA.
The petition was rejected on the grounds that Thuy, as a prisoner, technically does not have the rights of a citizen of Vietnam.
Thuy, a former vice president of the Vietnam Independent Journalism Association (IJAVN), had blogged on civil rights and freedom of speech issues for RFA’s Vietnamese Service for six years, and visited the United States in 2014 to testify before the House of Representatives on media freedom problems in Vietnam.
Arrested in May 2020, Thuy was indicted along with two other IJAVN members Pham Chi Dung and Le Huu Minh Tuan on Nov. 10 for “making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison along with Tuan, while Dung was given 15 years.
Thuy’s wife Nguyen Thi Lan told RFA’s Vietnamese Service Wednesday that her husband had called home from the An Phuoc Detention Center in the southern province of Binh Duong a day earlier.
“He sounded very unhappy. He had asked the detention center to send his petition letters to the procuracy and other agencies… In their responses, the authorities said that in a way, he did not have citizenship rights. This is ridiculous and unreasonable,” she said.
“The authorities did, however, suggest that he request an appeal to reconsider the court decision if he did not agree with it. They said his petition was not valid because he no longer had necessary citizen rights to file it,” said Lan.
RFA’s website features many articles written by Thuy, including a series of reports about death-row prisoner Ho Duy Hai, whose harsh sentence has been criticized by legal experts.
Thuy also wrote reports depicting the plight of people involved in land disputes against developers or the government, and refuted government reports on the anniversary of the 1975 fall of Saigon that mocked Vietnamese people who fled the country then to escape the Communist regime.
Thuy, born in 1950, joined the North Vietnamese army in 1970, retiring after 22 years of service. Over the past 10 years he wrote many articles and managed a popular personal blog that has generated over for million page visits.
Vietnam, with a population of 99 million people, has been consistently rated “not free” in the areas of internet and press freedom by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog group.
Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.