Vu Tien Chi, a 55-year-old male from Vietnam, is now sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence for spreading “anti-state propaganda” on social media platforms, as stated by the police. Chi was specifically “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the state,” as stated by the country’s Ministry of Public Security.
Chi’s trial was one-day long and took place in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. Apart from a ten-year prison sentence, he will also have to serve three more years on probation. At the time of his arrest, the police found several objects including electronic devices, computers, and telephones.
It is common news that Vietnam employs forceful tactics for internet censorship and pose a serious threat to free speech on the internet.
The country also has a poor media freedom record as it ranks at 175 out of the 180 countries in the rankings. Several rules and laws have also been declared, requiring social media companies to open offices and store user data in the country only.
Even Big Tech platforms tend to comply with the requests made by the Vietnamese government, even the ones that lead to internet censorship in the country. Both Facebook and YouTube had agreed upon deleting several posts from their platforms as the Vietnamese government found them “illegal.”
Chi was found guilty of sharing close to 340 articles and 180 videos on his social media handles, and did so with an intention to “distort and defame the people’s administration, infringe the interests of the Communist Party of Vietnam and state.”
It is also worth noting that Chi was arrested way back in June 2020. Since then, he had remained under the bars. At the time of arrest, he was accused of sharing “anti-state” content across a number of Facebook accounts.
Vietnam, in the recent past, has imprisoned a staggeringly high number of individuals who expressed dissent against the country. Activists are being subjected to intense harassment and put in jails for extended periods, with Chi’s case being an apt example.
Apart from Chi, three other individuals are on trial this Tuesday in the central province of Khanh Hoa.