A Vietnamese court has convicted four political dissidents of subversion and sentenced them to up to 16 years in prison.

The four went on trial in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday for taking part in "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration," including promoting a multiparty state and collaborating with exiled Vietnamese pro-democracy groups. 

U.S.-educated human rights lawyer  Le Cong Dinh and Le Thang Long received five-year sentences after the one-day trial.  A third defendant, Nguyen Tien Trung, received a seven-year sentence, while Internet entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Human rights groups say the trial is being motivated by politics, as Vietnam's Communist Party leaders prepare for next year's national congress.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AF.