Noted Vietnam blogger jailed for two years

March 05, 2014 - 1:15:41 am
HANOI: Popular Vietnamese blogger and journalist Truong Duy Nhat was jailed for two years yesterday for posting articles critical of the Communist government and leaders, his lawyer said.

Nhat was found guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state” at a half-day trial in his native city of Danang on the central coast. The broad anti-state charges can carry a maximum of seven years in jail.

“He strongly denied the charge, claiming that he is innocent,” said lawyer Tran Vu Hai. The US said it was “deeply concerned” by the sentence. 

“We call on the Vietnamese government to release Truong Duy Nhat and all prisoners of conscience, and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views,” an embassy  statement said.

Nhat, 50, was a journalist working for several state-run papers before he quit and set up the popular blog “A Different Viewpoint”.

Private media are banned in Vietnam with all newspapers and television channels state-run, but many citizens now prefer to access news through blogs and social media. 

Nhat’s posts frequently dealt with highly sensitive political issues and offered alternative commentary to the staid official press. In a post in April 2013 Nhat called for Vietnam’s top leaders to resign. He said it was “time for a new party general secretary and prime minister” to save the nation from economic and political woes.

He was taken into police custody in May that year and his blog was shut down.  According to a copy of the indictment posted online, his articles “were not true (and) defamed leaders of the party and state, creating a one-sided pessimistic viewpoint”.