HANOI (AFP) – Three Vietnamese activists were jailed for up to a year and a half Thursday on charges of anti-state activity, their lawyer said, in the latest crackdown on dissent in the authoritarian country. The court in southern Dong Nai province found Pham Minh Vu, Do Nam Trung and Le Thi Phuong Anh guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state,” lawyer Tran Thu Nam told AFP.
Vu, the only defendant to deny the charges, was given 18 months in jail while Trung was handed 14 months in jail, and Anh received 12 months, Nam said after the end of the half-day trial.
Of the three defendants, only Le Thi Phuong Anh was well-known – both as an anti-China activist and a strident government critic, particularly on foreign policy issues. The three were arrested in May last year and originally accused of disrupting local traffic in Dong Nai, but the charges were later changed. The three were subsequently charged under Article 258, one of the provisions of the penal code which rights groups say is deliberately vague and used to prosecute regime critics.