Two months after journalist Pham Doan Trang’s arrest, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recently launched a campaign calling for her unconditional release. The campaign includes a petition and a video of Doan Trang’s five Vietnamese overseas colleagues voicing their support for her.
Pham Doan Trang was arrested at her home in Saigon on the night of October 6, 2020. She is the co-founder of Legal Initiatives for Vietnam and worked as an editor for both Luat Khoa magazine and The Vietnamese magazine before her arrest.
She is charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code, and “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code (revised in 2017). She is facing up to a 20-year sentence if convicted.
In 2019, RSF awarded Pham Doan Trang the Press Freedom Prize for Impact. Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, in his statement calling for her release, wrote:
“Because of her bravery and her generosity, Pham Doan Trang has become a symbol of the fight to provide her fellow Vietnamese citizens with reliable, independent journalism. By signing this petition for her release, you demonstrate a commitment to press freedom in a country where all the media are strictly controlled by the communist party’s propaganda bureau. You also express your solidarity with Vietnamese civil society, which is now very active despite state censorship.”
According to RSF, Vietnam has languished for years near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Index.