Vietnam upholds 9-year jail term for dissident journalist

By Thomson Reuters Aug 25, 2022 | 4:35 AM

HANOI (Reuters) – A Vietnamese court on Thursday upheld a nine-year prison term for a journalist and prominent dissident convicted of anti-state activities, her lawyers and state media said.

The Hanoi People’s High Court rejected the appeals by Pham Doan Trang, 44, to a December ruling at a tightly-controlled trial in the capital city.

Pham Doan Trang, who widely published material on human rights and alleged police brutality in Vietnam, was convicted of “conducting propaganda against the state”.

“Trang argued that the initial trial in December didn’t follow domestic legal procedures and international treaty… but the court insisted that there was no foundation to accept her appeals,” her lawyer Dang Dinh Manh said.

Despite sweeping economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates little criticism.

Manh said Trang’s family members and diplomats in Hanoi were barred from attending her appeals trail.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington announced Trang as winner of an International Women of Courage prize at a ceremony attended by first lady Jill Biden. Vietnam objected to the prize granting.

The court on Tuesday said Trang wasn’t innocent, though she had pleaded not guilty, according to state media.

“The jury held that Pham Doan Trang’s activities were dangerous for the society,” official Vietnam News Agency reported.

Earlier this month, the court also upheld lengthy prison terms against at least three other activists.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Kim Coghill)