Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2008: Vietnam

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 4 December 2008
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2008: Vietnam, 4 December 2008, available at: [accessed 23 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008


Nguyen Van Hai, Dieu Cay
IMPRISONED: April 19, 2008

Hai was arrested on April 19 and held without charge for five months, according to news reports. A closed court convicted him of tax evasion on September 10.

Hai, who also goes by the name Nguyen Hoang Hai, was an outspoken commentator on his political blog Dieu Cay (The Peasant's Pipe). He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for failing to pay 10 years of taxes on part of a building that he rented to an optical shop. International news reports quoted his lawyer as saying the taxes should have been paid by the tenant, according to the rental agreement.

Several of Hai's blog entries had touched on politically sensitive issues. He had reported on national protests against China, which disputes Vietnam's claim to sovereignty over the nearby Spratly and Paracel Islands. Protests over the issue were launched in January. Hai also called for demonstrations against the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which was scheduled to pass through Ho Chi Minh City on April 29, according to the Web site of Viet Tan, an exiled pro-democracy organization.

Hai was not allowed family visits during his five-month detention, Viet Tan reported.

Nguyen Viet Chien, Thanh Nien
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2008

Police arrested Chien along with journalist Nguyen Van Hai, a writer for Tuoi Tre newspaper. The arrests came six weeks after a deputy minister was acquitted of corruption charges in a 2006 case they had covered, according to news reports.

Security officials cited inaccuracies in the reports published in the outspoken Vietnamese-language newspapers, according to the news accounts. Nguyen Van Hai (no relation to Hai of Dieu Cay) and Nguyen Viet Chien aggressively covered the 2006 "PMU-18" scandal, in which transport officials were accused of betting public money on football matches. The transport minister resigned over the scandal and some officials still faced charges in late year.

The two newspapers, Tuoi Tre (Youth) and Thanh Nien (Young People), published critical editorials protesting the arrests but received official warnings to stop, according to news reports.

In August, the Vietnamese government revoked the press credentials of at least four journalists for reporting "agitating information" following the two arrests, according to a translation of a report on the Vietnamese Nhan Dan Web site that was provided by BBC Monitoring.

Chien and Hai were formally charged with "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state" on September 30. The Hanoi People's Court sentenced Chien to two years in prison on October 15. Hai, who did not contest the charge, was given a noncustodial two-year re-education sentence the same day. A police officer was also given a one-year jail term for "deliberately revealing state secrets" to the two journalists, news reports said. While questioning Chien, a prosecutor said interviewing the police was illegal under press laws because "journalists are not allowed to receive information from unauthorized sources," according to the Asia Sentinel.

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