The U.S.-based NGO the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on Vietnamese authorities not to contest the appeal of journalist Pham Doan Trang amid reports her health is deteriorating in prison.
She was sentenced to nine years in December last year for “anti-state propaganda.”
Trang’s appeal will be heard on Aug. 25. Her lawyer previously told RFA the result depends on whether or not she pleads guilty at Hanoi’s High People’s Court.
This week four democracy activists in Vietnam lost appeals against their convictions and their prison sentences were not reduced.
The CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin. called for her immediate release “without terms or conditions that would affect her ability to work as a journalist.”
“The sooner Vietnam releases all of the journalists it wrongfully holds behind bars, the sooner it will be taken seriously as a responsible global actor,” Crispin said.”
The CPJ said it would honor Trang with its International Press Freedom Award in November “in recognition of her courage in reporting in the face of persecution.”
Trang has already been presented with many prestigious international awards, including the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award and Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Prize.
The journalist’s spokesman Trinh Huu Long, who has received many of the awards on Trang’s behalf, told RFA Trang’s lawyer visited her on Monday and they talked for 15 minutes.
“Trang's health situation now seems to be much worse than before,” Long said. “With the conditions of detention in prison for nearly two years it is not surprising that her health has deteriorated.”
“I think if the Vietnamese government does not provide Trang with urgent and necessary medical services, I would be very worried about her health in the near future."
Trang is suffering from many health problems such as sinusitis, arthritis, gynecological problems and prolonged menstruation. In addition, she has also been infected with COVID-19.