A friend of jailed Vietnamese activist blogger Nguyen Van Hoa released a summary of a letter Hoa had last month sent to his family from prison describing physical abuse and ploys to coerce him into testifying against other activists in cases with which he had no connection.
Hoa’s friend Pham Le Vuong Cac wrote in a post on his personal Facebook account that the letter details repeated physical abuse at the hands of prison guards and pressure to give false testimony.
The letter stated that on August 16, Hoa and fellow prisoner Nguyen Viet Dung were brought to the court in Nghe An as witness against defendant Le Dinh Luong, all of whom were arrested in connection to their actions following the waste spill at the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s steel plant in 2016.
The two prisoners recanted previous statements they had made against Luong, instead defending him and objecting to the allegations against him, the letter said.
As a result, the deputy director of the Nghe An Police Detention Center dragged Hoa to the court’s quarantine room and severely beat him, and the court claimed he was unable to return to the stand because of a stomach ache, the letter claimed.
Hoa, who was a regular contributor to RFA before his arrest, subsequently filed a “denunciation of the act of being beaten”, but his case hasn’t been addressed.
He explained later in the letter that he was threatened by two investigators from Ha Tinh Province who came to question him about cases having nothing to do with him. When he refused to cooperate, they threatened to prosecute him in other cases.
Hoa also claims that as a stipulation of the verdict against him, his Facebook account should have been deleted, but instead it is being used by Ha Tinh security agents, and that other fake accounts claiming to be his have been created for illegal purposes.
Finally, the letter directs Hoa’s family to immediately contact the prison to check up on his condition if they don’t receive one phone call and two letters from him every month.
His family has been in regular contact with him. His sister said that they were able to visit with him on October 16 and that he had called home earlier this week to say that he had undergone an operation for a tumor.
Hoa has been in prison since November 2017 serving a seven-year sentence for “conducting propaganda against the state.”
He was the first person to broadcast live footage of protests outside Formosa’s steel plant in Ha Tinh using a flycam drone. In October 2016, his footage of more than 10,000 peaceful protesters went viral.
The Formosa spill polluted more than 125 miles of coastline along four coastal provinces, including Quang Binh, killing an estimated 115 tons of fish and leaving fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Eugene Whong.