Phạm Đoan Trang, an award-winning Vietnamese journalist and democracy activist, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for “conducting propaganda against the state.”
Trang, who is also an author, published several books and other material on human rights issues and alleged police brutality in Vietnam, according to Amnesty International.
The 43-year-old has “stood up for arbitrarily detained activists, written about man-made environmental disasters and most recently challenged the official narrative of the deadly Dong Tam village raid,” according to Amnesty International, who called her a “leading voice for human rights in the country.”
She was awarded a Press Freedom Prize from Reporters Without Borders in 2019 for her work.
In the verdict on Tuesday Dec. 14 by the Hanoi court, Trang was found guilty of “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the state.”
“It was such a long sentence, close to the maximum term for such activities,” one of Trang’s lawyers said, Reuters reported.
Trang had been detained under de facto house arrest in 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders.
She was then arrested in October 2020 for “propaganda against the state”, which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years.
She was “denied access to her family and legal representation” for over a year until the trial this November, according to Human Rights Watch.
The judges had said her activities were dangerous to society and the administration, one of her lawyers said.
Her lawyer said they would discuss a possible appeal as Trang did not plead guilty.
The verdict has been condemned by human rights organizations and the US Embassy.
“It is outrageous that the Vietnamese authorities are convicting Pham Doan Trang, a courageous journalist and human rights defender, who has for years fought for a just, inclusive, and rights-respecting Viet Nam,” Amnesty International said. “Her work should be celebrated and protected, not punished and criminalized.”