Jailed Vietnamese RFA Blogger ‘Haggard,’ Showing Signs of Mental Decline at An Phuoc
RFA | 2021-04-19
A jailed Vietnamese blogger serving an 11-year prison term for writing articles criticizing Vietnam’s government is showing signs of poor health and mental decline in the prison to which he was moved last week, his wife said Monday.
Nguyen Tuong Thuy, an independent journalist and former RFA Vietnamese Service blogger, was moved April 15 from the Bo La detention center in Binh Duong province to the An Phuoc detention center in the same province.
After visiting Thuy at An Phuoc on Saturday, Nguyen Thi Lan wrote on her Facebook page that her husband appeared to have lost weight and looked haggard and frail. He was also uncharacteristically absent-minded, Lan wrote.
“While talking with me, he often stuttered and easily forgot things. It often took him so time to think before saying something,” she said.
Thuy, 71, was older than many of the other inmates held at Bo La and was often last in line when the prison canteen opened for purchases of food, a fellow prisoner who was released to An Phuoc ahead of Thuy told family members.
Thuy was also hindered in performing daily tasks at Bo La by an injury to his hand suffered when police wrenched his phone away from him at the time of his arrest, sources said.
Lan said that Thuy told her conditions are better at An Phuoc, where he now shares a cell containing a television, fan, and tiled floor with two other prisoners—an inmate from Vietnam’s Central Highlands and a Hoa Hao Buddhist, a religious group often harassed by communist authorities.
Lan wrote that she hopes her husband’s health will now improve at his new prison.
Thuy, who had blogged on civil rights and freedom of speech issues for RFA’s Vietnamese Service for six years, was sentenced on Jan. 5 with two other bloggers—like Thuy members of the Vietnam Independent Journalists’ Association—who were handed lengthy jail terms at the same time.
Arrested in May 2020, Thuy was indicted along with Pham Chi Dung and Le Huu Minh Tuan on Nov. 10 for “making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes" under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.
Sentenced with Thuy, Pham Chi Dung was given a 15-year prison term, while Le Huu Minh Tuan was jailed for 11 years. Dung was transferred from Bo La to An Phuoc on March 29.
Thuy later refused to appeal his sentence, tearing up a petition form given to him after prison guards told him what to write on it, Thuy’s lawyer told RFA in an earlier report.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Vietnam 175 out of 180 in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index. About 25 journalists and bloggers are being held in Vietnam’s jails, “where mistreatment is common,” the Paris-based watchdog group said.
Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent deteriorated sharply last year with a spate of arrests of independent journalists, publishers, and Facebook personalities as authorities continued to stifle critics in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party Congress in January. But arrests continue in 2021.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.