Vietnam Jails Pro-Freedom Blogger For 9 Years

A court in Vietnam jailed a journalist and prominent dissident for nine years on Tuesday for anti-regime activities, her lawyers and state media said, in a case that attracted the attention of international human rights groups.

Ms. Pham Doan Trang, who published material widely on human rights and police brutality in Communist Vietnam, was convicted of “conducting propaganda against the state” by a Hanoi court, according to her legal team and state-controlled media.

Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates little criticism.

Calls to the court seeking confirmation of the verdict went unanswered on Tuesday.

It was such a long sentence, close to the maximum term for such activities, said one of her lawyers, Mr. Nguyen Van Mieng, adding that Ms. Trang did not plead guilty at the trial and they would meet later to discuss a possible appeal.

Ms. Trang was detained hours after an annual U.S.-Vietnam human rights dialogue in October last year, an arrest the U.S. embassy said could impact freedom of expression.

Mr. Dang Dinh Manh, another member of her legal team, said the nine-year sentence was severe.

The sentence is too long. The judges insisted that Trang’s activities were dangerous for society and for the administration, Mr. Manh said.

In May 2016, police detained and prevented Trang from attending a meeting with then U.S. President Barrack Obama, who had invited her to join him at an activists’ forum.

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