A Vietnamese noodle vendor known for his impersonation of celebrity chef “Salt Bae” has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison after a court found him guilty of anti-state propaganda for mocking a senior government official, TVP World reported. .
The conviction is the latest in a wide-ranging government effort to silence critical voices of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
A video of 39-year-old Bui Tuan Lam went viral in November 2021. It shows a senior Vietnamese civil servant eating a gold-plated steak at a London restaurant.
Lam was arrested late last year. He was convicted today of “preparing, storing, disseminating information, documents and objects directed against the state,” the Danang Police Department said after a day-long trial.
Along with running a noodle stall in the city, Lam has publicly advocated for democracy in Vietnam and participated in many anti-Chinese and pro-environmental protests.
The Da Nang police department also cited the indictment against Lam, which said he posted 19 articles and 25 videos on social media to “distort and defame the state”.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called on the Vietnamese government to stop prosecuting Lam and others for criticizing the Vietnamese Communist Party.
“The list of posts and videos cited as ‘evidence’ of Bui Tuan Lam’s ‘crimes’ shows the lengths to which the Vietnamese will go to block any form of online criticism of the government,” Phil said.
“For the Vietnamese leadership, even songs are a threat to their monopoly on power,” he added.
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