Vietnamese authorities use Facebook content to sentence Le Dinh Luong to 20 years prison


August 16, 2018

A successful businessman turned community organizer and blogger, Le Dinh Luong was sentenced to 20 years followed by 5 years house arrest. He was convicted for “attempting to overthrow the state” in a sham trial lasting five hours in Nghe An province in central Vietnam.

The vague charges were based on police investigations into Le Dinh Luong’s Facebook postings and organizing activity. In a first, authorities detailed the contents of his videos, comments, and friends list as evidence to accuse him of sweeping national security crimes.

In the indictment, authorities admitted that they would have directly obtained Le Dinh Luong’s private user data if Facebook had data servers in Vietnam. Instead, authorities relied on various indirect methods to confirm Le Dinh Luong’s Facebook content.

Authorities claimed that Le Dinh Luong conducted “propaganda” and associated with Viet Tan. This is the latest instance of the Vietnamese authorities criminalizing the exercise of freedom expression and freedom of association.

Le Dinh Luong, 53 years old, is a veteran of Vietnam’s border war with China and active member of the Catholic community in Nghe An province. He reported on issues surrounding the government mishandling of the Formosa environmental disaster and assisted affected fishermen to demand fair compensation.

Despite repeated requests, his family was denied visitation for the past year. Le Dinh Luong was only granted access to his lawyer at the end of July, more than a year after his arrest on July 24, 2017.

Criminalizing peaceful activism and the use of Facebook is a violation of human rights and civil liberties. In a sign that the Vietnamese Communist Party is increasingly afraid of peaceful dissent, police thugs recently beat two other prominent activists (Pham Doan Trang and Nguyen Tin) and authorities will put on trial another activist (Nguyen Trung Truc) this week.

Contact: Duy Hoang +1.202.596.7951