Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, also known as blogger Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom), was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment on 29 June 2017 for “conducting propaganda” against the state under Article 88 of the Penal Code. She is currently held incommunicado, preventing her lawyers from finalizing her appeal.
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh was held in pre-trial detention from the time of her arrest on 10 October 2016 and not granted access to a lawyer until 20 June 2017, nine days before her case was heard at the People's Court of Khánh Hòa. At the trial, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh and her lawyer were prevented from presenting a full defence against the charges and were reportedly frequently cut off by the Judge when they attempted to speak.
According to a translation of the indictment, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh was charged for her activities on Facebook and other social media, including writing, uploading and sharing articles and video content critical of the ruling Communist Party of Viet Nam and the state; for producing, editing, and sharing a report titled "Stop Police Killing Civilians" that listed 31 people who, the report claimed, had died in police custody; for giving interviews with foreign media that "distorted" the situation in Vietnam; and for her possession of a poem collection and compact disc recording that were deemed critical of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and the state. The charges violate the right to freedom of expression as provided in international human rights law, which binds Viet Nam. Amnesty International considers Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for her peaceful activities promoting and defending human rights.
With the exception of a short five-minute visit the day before the trial, Vietnamese authorities have prevented any contact with her family, who do not know where she has been detained. Packages of food and clothing delivered by Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh's mother over the course of her pre-trial detention were not passed on, including a bible and hymn book that Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh had specifically requested in writing. Her mother was also prevented from attending the trial, and was instead made to watch a live feed from an adjourning room. Since the arrest, her mother has been caring for her two young children with support from friends. The family is under daily surveillance by authorities and the children are reportedly withdrawn and distressed at the absence of their mother.