Nguyen Quang Lap was arrested on December 6, 2014, and Hong Le Tho was arrested on November 29 in Ho Chi Minh City. Both were charged with “abusing freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interests of the state” under article 258 of the penal code. In 2014, Vietnam has used article 258 to convict at least 10 rights advocates and arrest 4 bloggers…..
Nguyen Quang Lap and Hong Le Tho are not the only bloggers who have been arrested and charged with article 258 this year. Other victims of this ongoing crackdown include Nguyen Huu Vinh (known as Anh Ba Sam) and his colleague Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, both arrested in May 2014. In November, the B14 Detention Center in Hanoi refused to allow defense lawyer Ha Huy Son to meet with his client Nguyen Huu Vinh, and defense lawyer Nguyen Tien Dung to meet his client Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy. In December, the Procuracy office informed Ha Huy Son that the case has been sent back to the police investigation bureau for supplemental investigation.
“There can hardly be a more insidious legal provision than one that criminalizes ‘abusing freedom and democracy to infringe on the interests of the state,’” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These charges are even more preposterous from a government that is not democratic and doesn’t respect individual freedom.”
“Efforts to silence bloggers make a mockery of Vietnam’s commitments to the United Nations when it stood for election to the Human Rights Council,” Adams said. “The Vietnamese government looks like little more than a bully at home and abroad when it persecutes people who do nothing more than express their opinions.” RTWT