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Vietnam imprisons blogger who wrote critical posts against govt

Hanoi, Vietnam: A well-known blogger in central Vietnam was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for posting criticism of the communist 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 the bad light, his lawyer Tran Vu Hai said.

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."

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

 Vietnam imprisons blogger who wrote critical posts against govt

Protests in Vietnam against the trial of Le Quoc Quan. Image used for representational purposes only. AFP

The 50-year-old blogger was arrested at home last May, a month after posting an article that called for the resignation of Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong and 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," Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch's Asia director 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 criticised Vietnam of jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi maintains that only lawbreakers are put behind bars.

Human Rights Watch says the number of people sentenced in political trials has increased every year since 2010 and at least 63 people were imprisoned for peaceful political expression last year.

Associated Press

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Updated Date: Mar 04, 2014 14:23:11 IST