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US 'Concerned' at Conviction of Vietnamese Activists

The United States says it is concerned at the prison sentences given to two young activists in Vietnam who were convicted this week on subversion charges.

College student Nguyen Phuong Uyen was given six years in prison, while computer technician Dinh Nguyen Kha received eight years following a one-day trialThursday.

They were found guilty of spreading what Vietnamese authorities said were "anti-government" leaflets that "humiliated" the country's communist government.

On Friday, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said the sentences were "inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression," and called for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience.

The statement said the case is "part of a disturbing trend of Vietnamese authorities using charges under national security laws to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views."

Rights groups also called for the release of the activists. In a statement, Human Rights Watch's Asia director, Brad Adams, called the trial "ridiculous" and said it "shows the insecurity of the Vietnamese government."

In recent years, the communist government in Hanoi has imprisoned dozens of dissidents and critics of the one-party system on charges of subversion and anti-government activities.

In the latest case, a lawyer for the two activists says his clients did not view their activities as spreading anti-state propaganda, but only as efforts to make their country a better place.

The two activists will be forced to serve three years each under house arrest following their time in prison. They will also be barred from joining any social organizations.
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