The United States is concerned about Nguyen Thanh Nha, Doan Kien Giang, and Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao, three independent journalists who were arrested by Vietnamese authorities on April 20th, as well as their colleague, Truong Chau Huu Danh, who was detained in late December. All four were charged under Article 331 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, which forbids “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State”. A conviction carries a 7-year prison sentence.
Truong Chau Huu Danh is one of the founders of, and a contributor to, the Facebook-based independent news outlet Bao Sach, or “Clean Newspaper”. According to the non-profit, Independent Organization Committee to Protect Journalists, at the time of Danh’s arrest on December 17, 2020, Bao Sach had more than 100,000 followers on Facebook. It covered topics such as corruption and posted pictures of government officials suspected of self-serving dealings. The Bao Sach Facebook page was deactivated following Danh’s arrest.
“These four arrests of journalists are the latest in a troubling trend of detentions and convictions of Vietnamese citizens exercising their rights to free expression and speech as enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in a written statement.
“The United States calls on the Vietnamese authorities to release all those unjustly detained and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely and without fear of retaliation. We urge the Vietnamese government to ensure its actions are consistent with the human rights provisions of Vietnam’s constitution and its international obligations and commitments,” he said.
“Press freedom is fundamental to transparency and accountable governance. Authors, bloggers, and journalists often do their work at great risk, and we urge governments and citizens worldwide to ensure their protection.”