Wed, Mar 05, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Vietnam sentences blogger to jail for critical comments

AP, HANOI

A well-known blogger in central Vietnam was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for posting criticism of the government in the latest case from an intensified crackdown against dissent in the one-party state.

Truong Duy Nhat was convicted of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe the interests of the state” by posting material that distorted the government’s policies and put the country’s leadership in a bad light, said his lawyer, Tran Vu Hai.

His lawyer said Nhat told the court that he did post the 12 articles on his blog, but Nhat maintained that his acts did not constitute a crime.

“I merely exercised my rights to freedom of speech,” Hai quoted Nhat as saying.

“Actually I did defend the state and its interests,” he added.

The half-day trial took place in central Danang City, where Nhat lived.

The 50-year-old blogger was arrested at home in May last year, a month after posting an article that called for the resignation of Vietnamese Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, accusing them of being responsible for what he described as the country’s “political chaos,” “slumping economy” and their failure to fight rampant corruption.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the government to free Nhat.

“Truong Duy Nhat’s trial is part of the Vietnamese government’s futile effort to silence the increasingly effervescent community of Vietnamese bloggers,” Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

Nhat was a reporter at a state-run newspaper before quitting more than three years ago to focus on his blog, “Another Point of View.”

His posts have often criticized the government.

He said in 2010 that he was quitting as a reporter “to write about things that I want to write.”

Last month, an appeals court in Hanoi upheld the conviction and 30-month prison sentence against Le Quoc Quan, a US-trained lawyer and well-known dissident found guilty of tax evasion in a case that international rights groups say was politically motivated.

Western governments and international human-rights groups have criticized Vietnam of jailing people for peacefully expressing their views.

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