Blogger Nguyen Nhu Phuong Imprisoned Under Article 117; High-Profile Officials Dismissed from Communist Party’s Central Committee


On December 26, the An Giang Provincial People’s Court held a trial for Nguyen Nhu Phuong, a Vietnamese blogger, on charges of “making, storing, and distributing anti-State materials” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Phuong was subsequently sentenced to five-year imprisonment and three-year probation. According to the indictment mentioned in State media, Phuong had used his social media account to “publish information, documents, images, and audio files containing content” that “distorts the guidelines and policies of the Party and State; incites opposition against the Party and State; and offends the honor and dignity of individuals and organizations.” Last year, Phuong uploaded a recording on his Facebook account in which Col. Dinh Van Noi, the police head of An Giang Province, was heard talking to an official from the province’s Party committee. In the recording, that police officer claimed defiantly that he rejected an order from his superior to bar local people from returning to the province to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were flocking out of Ho Chi Minh City to return to their hometowns after the Vietnamese government lifted its months-long draconian lockdowns. Social media users widely shared the recording in Vietnam. Police of An Giang Province claimed that the recording was “modified,” damaging Col. Dinh Van Noi's reputation and adversely affecting the province's security, public order, pandemic prevention and control policy. At that time, the Vietnamese government used the police to prevent residents from returning to their hometowns, fearing the virus could be spread among these localities. This policy created a humanitarian crisis when people were prevented from traveling from place to place. The defiance was a rare move in Vietnam’s top-down political system.

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Detention - imprisonment