Global Freedom of Expression

Vietnam v. Ta Phong Tan (The Case of Blogger Ta Phong Tan)

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    December 28, 2012
  • Outcome
  • Case Number
  • Region & Country
    Vietnam, Asia and Asia Pacific
  • Judicial Body
    Appellate Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Violence Against Speakers / Impunity, National Security, Political Expression
  • Tags

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Ta Phong Tan, a Vietnamese blogger published several articles on human rights abuses and corruption within Vietnam’s law enforcement and the judiciary in her blog Cong Ly v Su That (Justice and Truth). In September 2011, the government arrested and charged her with conducting propaganda against the state under Article 88 of the Penal Code. On October 4, 2012, the Ho Chi Minh City’s People Court sentenced her to 10-year imprisonment with additional years of house arrest upon release. On December 28, 2012,  an appellate court affirmed the judgment. After serving three years of her sentence, Ta Phong Tan was released on September 19, 2015 and was forced to live in exile in the United States.

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression could not identify the official legal and government records on the case and that the information contained in this report was derived from secondary sources. It must be noted that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding this legal matter will be updated as an official source becomes available.




Ta Phong Tan, a co-founder of the Free Journalists Club website and an independent blogger, focused on corruption and human rights abuses among Vietnam’s police officials and the judiciary system. [1] In September 2011, after publishing a number of articles in her blog Cong Ly v Su That (Justice and Truth), the government arrested and charged her under Article 88 of the Penal Code. [2] The criminal provision imposes three to 12-year imprisonment for “[p]ropagating against, distorting and/or defaming the people’s administration; [p]ropagating psychological warfare and spreading fabricated news in order to foment confusion among people, or [by] [m]aking, storing and/or circulating documents and/or cultural products with contents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

On September 24, 2012, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court sentenced her to 10-year imprisonment. It found that she “abused the popularity of the Internet to post articles which undermined and blackened Vietnam’s [leaders], criticizing the [Communist] party [and] destroying people’s trust in the state.” [3]

Tan later appealed the judgment.

[1] Committee to Protect Journalists, Ta Phong Tan, (accessed Sept. 28, 2015).

[2] Committee to Protect Journalists, Ta Phong Tan, (accessed Sept. 28, 2015).

[3] Committee to Protect Journalists, Ta Phong Tan, (accessed Sept. 28, 2015).


Decision Overview

On December 28, 2012, an appellate court upheld the judgment against Tan and other blogger Nguyen Van Hai. [1]

On September 19, 2015, after serving three-year of her sentence, Tan was released from prison and was forced by the government to live in exile in the United States. [2]

[1] Committee to Protect Journalists, Ta Phong Tan, (accessed Sept. 28, 2015).

[2] Vietnam Human Rights Defenders, Prominent Blogger Ta Phong Tan Released, Becoming Third Vietnamese Political Prisoner to Live in Exile in U.S., (Sept. 20, 2015),


Decision Direction

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Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Viet., Penal Code No. 15/1999/QH10, art. 88

Case Significance

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Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

The appellate court upheld the decision of the criminal court by sentencing her to 10 years in prison and additional years for house arrest upon release.

Official Case Documents

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:

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