Vietnam court jails bloggers for 'anti-state propaganda'

Three bloggers have been sentenced to jail for posting political articles on a banned Vietnamese site and their own blogs, which a court deems as undermining the country's government and communist rule.

A southern Vietnamese court has jailed three bloggers for "anti-state propaganda".

The bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai, had been charged with conducting propaganda against the country, AFP reported on Monday.

The charges are related to political articles posted by the bloggers on banned Vietnamese Web site, the "Free Journalists Club", as well as postings on their own blogs, denouncing corruption, injustice and criticizing Hanoi's foreign policy. Vietnam bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run.

The court's president Nguyen Phi Long told AFP their crimes had been "especially serious with clear intentions against the state", and that they had to be "seriously punished".

"They abused the popularity of the Internet to post articles which undermined and blackened [Vietnam's] leaders, criticising the [Communist] party [and] destroying people's trust in the state," court president Nguyen said.

Currently, groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on the Vietnamese government to drop their charges and release the three bloggers immediately, the newswire said.

U.S. president Barack Obama in May had highlighted blogger Nguyen Van Hai's plight: "We must not forget [journalists] like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam".

In a speech curtailed when the audio feed from the courtroom was cut off, Nguyen Van Hai said he had never been against the communist state, AFP said.

"According to Vietnamese law, citizens have the right to freedom of speech and it is in accordance with international treaties to which Vietnam is party," Obama said before the sound had been cut off.


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