“Bloggers being held illegally”

Ba Sam is jailed in B14, the detention camp administered by the Ministry of Public Security.

Ba Sam is jailed in B14, the detention camp administered by the Ministry of Public Security.

Confusion is growing about the legal status of the blogger, “Ba Sam” and his assistant, who have now been held for 22 months without trial.

Defence lawyers and family members have called for the release of the bloggers following a decision last month by the Hanoi People’s Court to postpone the trial.

The court is supposed to announce a fresh date for trial within a month but failed to do so, leading to allegations that Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy are now being held illegally.

“Every kind of time limit has long ended, from investigation to prosecution, trial and adjudication,” said Vinh’s wife, Le Thi Minh Ha, who is being treated for brain cancer.

Postponed without explanation

The team of defence lawyers say they will continue to petition for their release, saying they can no longer predict what the authorities intend to do.

Trial had been set for January 19, the day before the Communist party’s congress convened. The hearing was postponed without explanation a week before it was due to take place.

There’s speculation that the highly sensitive nature of the case may be the reason for the prolonged delays.

The authorities have tended to avoid high profile political trials since they entered negotiations in earnest for membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Vinh, a former senior police officer, adopted the pen name Ba Sam, for his blog which exposed corruption and maladministration in the government.

He is currently being held in the detention camp, B14, administered by the Ministry of Public Security.

Violations of due process

His ailing wife is becoming frantic with worry about her husband and the seemingly endless delays in bringing a case against him.

“With a wife’s affection for her husband and from what I have personal knowledge of, I reaffirm that my husband, Ba Sam, Nguyen Huu Vinh, is guilty of the crime of being a patriot. He is guilty of being one that loves his country and loves freedom, and is guilty because he longs for a democratic Vietnam and for the people of Vietnam to have their rights,” she wrote in a letter to the readers of the blog.

She also wrote to President Truong Tan Sang last year, saying there had been many violations of due process in the case. She never received a reply.

The bloggers are charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” under article 258 of the penal code.

The case is seen by civil rights campaigners as a grave assault on freedom of expression.

Some believe that prosecutors have been unable to gather credible evidence, even under the terms of the current law.