Viet Nam: Sham trial shows authorities ‘abusing Facebook’ to silence criticism
Ahead of the court hearing in the case of Nguyen Ngoc Anh tomorrow, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, said:
“The sham charges levelled against Nguyen Ngoc Anh show that no one is safe on Facebook in Vietnam anymore. Anh is only the last case in a growing list of netizens prosecuted, arrested or detained solely for peacefully discussing public affairs or criticizing the government.
“The authorities in Hanoi are now extending, online, the chokehold they have put on civic and political rights in the country for decades, using Facebook as a tool to further their repression of dissenting voices.
“The court should drop these politically-motivated charges and release him immediately and unconditionally.”
Nguyen Ngoc Anh is an aquatic engineer from Ben Tre province. He is active in political debates on social media and especially used Facebook to express his opinions and share content from other Facebook users.
In June 2018, the Vietnamese National Assembly tabled a draft law to establish new special economic zones (SEZs), raising the prospect of significant amounts of land coming under foreign ownership for up to 99 years. The law sparked a nation-wide outcry and led to mass demonstrations across the country. The authorities responded by cracking down on peaceful protestors in Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces in southern Vietnam.
Nguyen Ngoc Anh was arrested on 30 August 2018 on charges of ‘making, storing, disseminating or propagandizing materials and products that aim to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’, an offense under article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.