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Vietnam: Blogger Jailed for 15 Months for 'Abusing Democratic Freedoms'

A popular Vietnamese blogger has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for posting material critical of that country's Communist Party leaders.

Following a brief trial Wednesday in Hanoi, Pham Viet Dao was found guilty of "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the state's interests."

The judge said Dao's posts defamed party and state leaders, "causing anxiety among the public and reducing people's trust in the leadership."

The 61-year-old apologized for mistakenly blogging some incorrect information, but he denied that his actions harmed society in any way.

Vietnam recently has become more aggressive at cracking down on dissent, convicting several high profile bloggers on anti-state charges.

Human Rights Watch called for Dao to be freed immediately, saying Vietnam is shaming itself "by staging yet another political trial of a peaceful critic."

The conviction comes two weeks after blogger Truong Duy Nhat was jailed for two years for also posting material that authorities said "abused democratic freedoms."

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.