A Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced three prominent dissident bloggers to prolonged prison terms for "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," media reports said.
In a trial that lasted just a few hours, Nguyen Van Hai was given 12 years' jail, while Ta Phong Tan whose mother burnt herself to death in July after police harassed her family received ten years. The other blogger Phan Thanh Hai was sentenced to four years. Nguyen's case had been raised by U.S. President Barack Obama during a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day in May last.
Jailing of the three bloggers comes amid crackdowns on political blogs ordered by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. People are increasingly using Internet to expose corruption and nepotism by the ruling Communist party and to express their resentment to the state of affairs in the South-East Asian country, where the Press is controlled by the state.
Hundreds of police surrounded the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on Monday morning to prevent supporters of the convicts from approaching the court. Seven people have been arrested before the trial started and mobile phones were barred from the court premises, reports said quoting activists.
Nguyen's former wife Duong Thi Tan on Sunday had expressed her fears that the trio would not get a fair trial. "In this country, the law is never enforced as it is enshrined," she was quoted in reports as saying.
by RTT Staff Writer
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