Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 20:36 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2010 - Vietnam

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 8 December 2010
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2010 - Vietnam, 8 December 2010, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
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, 2010

Vietnam: 5

Nguyen Van Hai (Nguyen Hoang Hai), freelance
Imprisoned: April 19, 2008

Hai was arrested and held without charge for five months, according to news reports. A closed court convicted him of tax evasion on September 10, 2008.

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 two and a half years in prison for failing to pay 10 years of taxes on the part of a building he had 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. He also called for demonstrations against the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which was to pass through Ho Chi Minh City, according to the website of Viet Tan, an exiled pro-democracy organization.

In April 2009, Hai was transferred to the southern Cai Tau Prison, several hours from his home in Ho Chi Minh City, and was denied family visits, according to Viet Tan and international human rights groups. He was scheduled for release after serving his sentence on October 20, 2010, but authorities continued to detain him for undisclosed reasons.

Pham Thanh Nghien, freelance
Imprisoned: September 2008

A Haiphong city court sentenced online writer Pham Thanh Nghien in January 2010 to four years in prison and three years of house arrest on charges of spreading antistate material.

She was first arrested in September 2008 during a government crackdown on dissidents and was originally charged with staging a protest against the government's policy in a maritime dispute involving China.

In its ruling, the court singled out an online article written for foreign media in which Nghien criticized public officials for siphoning off compensation funds intended for survivors of fishermen killed by Chinese maritime patrols in 2007, according to international news reports.

Nghien was also accused of criticizing the government in interviews with foreign media outlets. Her half-day trial was closed to foreign media and diplomats, news reports said. She was being held at Thanh Liet Detention Center in Hanoi.

Pham Minh Hoang (Phan Kien Quoc), freelance
Imprisoned: August 13, 2010

Pham Minh Hoang, a university mathematics professor and political blogger associated with the exiled Viet Tan pro-democracy party, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City.

At a September press conference, authorities announced that Hoang had been charged under Article 79 of the penal code for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Subversion charges carry a potential death penalty in Vietnam.

The charges refer to 29 blog posts written under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc, according to Viet Tan. The entries focused on corruption, environmental degradation, and perceived government failures to protect the country's territorial sovereignty from Chinese intervention, according to Viet Tan.

Hoang, a French national of Vietnamese origin, was detained at the Ministry of Public Security's Detainment Center in Saigon District 1. He awaited trial in late year.

Phan Thanh Hai (Anh Ba Saigon), freelance
Imprisoned: October 18, 2010

Phan Thanh Hai, a political blogger who wrote under the penname Anh Ba Saigon, was taken into custody on a provisional four-month detention while authorities conducted further investigation.

Police raided his Ho Chi Minh City home, seizing computers, documents, and articles downloaded from the Internet, Agence France-Presse reported. According to his wife, Nguyen Thi Lien, police said they had evidence that he had written and published "false information" on his blog.

Hai's blog often touched on issues considered sensitive by the Vietnamese authorities, including a scandal at state-run shipbuilder Vinashin, maritime and territorial disputes with China, and a controversial Chinese-supported bauxite mining project in the country's Central Highlands.

He was being held at Ho Chi Minh City's Phan Dang Luu Detention Center.

Le Nguyen Huong Tra (Do Long Girl), freelance
Imprisoned: October 23, 2010

Le Nguyen Huong Tra, a blogger who wrote under the penname Do Long Girl, was taken into custody at her Ho Chi Minh City home. Her blog, which mixed humor and political analysis, had developed a significant following.

Tra's arrest stemmed from blog entries critical of Deputy Public Security Minister Nguyen Khanh Toan, whom she alleged had done favors for women who had had romantic relations with his son, according to news reports. The nature of those favors was not specified, and authorities would not discuss specifics of the case.

She faced criminal defamation charges that carried a maximum seven-year prison sentence. Charges were pending in late year.

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