Vietnam upholds bloggers jail terms

December 29, 2012 - 3:54:40 am

HANOI: Two prominent Vietnamese dissident bloggers yesterday lost their appeals against long prison sentences for “anti-state propaganda”, a lawyer said, despite international calls for their release.

A court in southern Ho Chi Minh City upheld the convictions of Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, and former policewoman Ta Phong Tan, confirming their respective jail terms of 12 and 10 years.

“They did not listen to us or the defendants,” Hai’s lawyer Ha Huy Son told a reporter.

A third blogger Phan Thanh Hai, who had pleaded guilty to the charges at their trial in September, saw his four-year prison term reduced by one year on appeal, Son said.

The convictions relate to political articles the bloggers posted on the banned Vietnamese website “Free Journalists Club” as well as their own blogs, which criticised corruption, injustice and Hanoi’s foreign policy.

Rights campaigners say the bloggers are victims of the communist government’s efforts to muzzle dissent.

Hai’s case has even been raised by US President Barack Obama, who said in May this year “we must not forget (journalists) like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam”.