March 04, 2014
Vietnam Jails Activist for 2 Years for Criticizing Gov't
A Vietnamese court has sentenced a prominent activist to two years in jail for posting online content critical of the government.
Truong Duy Nhat's lawyer, Tran Vu Hai, told VOA's Vietnamese service that Nhat's arguments were disrupted and he was not allowed to present his full views.
"We asked the court to summon the state's senior leaders, whom Nhat had criticized, to see whether they thought Nhat had infringed upon their interests. But nobody turned up. There is no rule that allows the prosecutors to make accusation about that on their behalf."
Hai said his client told the judges that he had spoken the truth and did not feel intimidated by the imprisonment. He added that Nhat would appeal the verdict.
In 2013, Nhat called for Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and others to resign to save the country from corruption, a poor economy, and "political chaos."
At a half-day hearing Tuesday, the court ruled the articles were not true and portrayed the country and its leaders in a negative light.
The 50-year-old was a journalist for state media before retiring in 2010 to focus on his blog called "Another Point of View."
Nhat is one of several bloggers to face trial in the past few months as Vietnamese authorities continue a crackdown on activists.
Human Rights Watch says the trial demonstrates "there is no slackening of the Vietnamese authorities' determination to target people for peaceful criticism."
The U.S.-based group says 61 Vietnamese dissidents and activists were convicted and sentenced to prison in 2013, compared to about 40 such convictions a year earlier.
(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.)