Activist Le Minh The was sentenced Wednesday, 20 March 2019, to two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedom rights to infringe upon the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organisations and citizens” under the Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code. This development came about during his trial in southern Can Tho province, according to news reports.
The Agence France-Presse quoted news site Cong An Nhan Dan of the Public Security Ministry as stating: He “deliberately posted and distributed reactionary propaganda information online, inciting, instigating and instructing others to protest and riot to overthrow the authorities” and live-streamed content that “defamed the party and the state (and) aimed to undermine the unity of the people.”
His Facebook posts were found critical of the recently enacted Cybersecurity Law, which took effect on 1 January 2019. Human rights advocates have raised concerns that the highly restrictive law could be used to further curtail free expression in Vietnam.
He was arrested on 10 October 2018 and was prohibited from receiving family visits at the onset of his detention, according to The 88 Project, a Vietnamese political prisoner database.
Le Minh The has been vocal about free expression, environment, sovereignty issues on his social media posts. He is a member of the pro-democracy group Hien Phap.
Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate release of Le Minh The, along with five activists and bloggers, “who are being prosecuted for peaceful political activities such as forming an association, expressing views on social media, and participating in public assemblies.”