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Family of Jailed Vietnamese Blogger Urges Public, Media Turnout at Trial

Before his arrest, Vietnamese blogger Dinh Nhat Uy holds a sign protesting China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Before his arrest, Vietnamese blogger Dinh Nhat Uy holds a sign protesting China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The mother of a well-known Vietnamese dissident blogger is appealing to VOA and other media outlets, as well as the public, to attend his upcoming trial on charges of violating state interests.

Dinh Nhat Uy is the first blogger publicly charged under Vietnam's controversial new Article 258, which provides criminal penalties for "abusing freedoms to infringe upon the state's interests".

He was arrested after writing blog posts critical of the four year prison sentence given to his brother in August following a highly publicized trial of two anti-China student activists. Interviews with VOA and other media outlets are cited in the charges against Dinh, who will go on trial on October 29 in the city of Long An.

Nguyen Thi Kim Lieng told VOA's Vietnamese service the prosecution of her son has attracted widespread public attention and people should come to witness what a public trial' looks like in Vietnam.

"Uy's trial is the first for Vietnamese bloggers on Article 258, so I'd like to invite everybody to come witness what the authorities describe as a public trial'," she said.

Defense attorney Ha Huy Son told VOA's Vietnamese service that Hanoi is using Uy's trial to test the reactions from domestic bloggers and the international community.

"The authorities are using this trial as a test to define upcoming measures for Vietnamese bloggers who challenge the government's intolerance of criticism," he said.

He added that Article 258 is unconstitutional and also violates international rights conventions and treaties signed by Vietnam.

It is not known if the trial will actually be open to the public. Vietnamese officials have not responded to VOA's requests to comment on the matter.

Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phil Robertson said this is part of an on-going persecution of peaceful critics in Vietnam.

"Unfortunately, this is part of the ongoing persecution of peaceful critics in Vietnam. The government should immediately stop these actions against people that violate their freedom of expression."

Rights groups, dissidents and some western countries frequently accuse Vietnam of stifling dissent and free speech.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.)