Asia

Court appeal of dissident Vietnam bloggers is rejected

  • 28 December 2012
  • From the section Asia
File photo of Nguyen Van Hai protesting in Ho Chi Minh City (19 January 2008)
Image caption Nguyen Van Hai (centre) is a vociferous critic of the government

An appeals court in Vietnam has upheld the sentences of two prominent bloggers jailed in September for "anti-state propaganda", a lawyer has told the BBC.

The court ruled that the sentences and convictions of writer Nguyen Van Hai and former policewoman Ta Phong Tan should not be overturned.

Nguyen Van Hai and Ta Phong Tan received 12 and 10 years in jail respectively after a brief trial.

In a separate development, another top blogger has been arrested.

Le Quoc Quan, one of Vietnam's best-known dissidents, was arrested on Thursday on charges of tax evasion, state media reports say.

Mr Quan was detained as he took his children to school in Hanoi.

He has been jailed before, and had recently complained of being under surveillance and harassment.

Vietnam's communist rulers have opened up the economy, but suppress political opposition and ban private media. All newspapers and television channels are state-run.

Fearful

The case of Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, has attracted international attention and was recently highlighted by US President Barack Obama.

Nguyen Van Hai's lawyer Ha Huy Son told the BBC Vietnamese service that the appeal failed because the court's judgement did not fully reflect the arguments presented on his client's behalf at the hearing.

Ta Phong Tan has been praised by campaigning groups for her work in exposing official corruption.

In June her mother committed suicide by setting herself on fire in front of government offices in protest over her continuing detention.

Image caption Le Quoc Quan writes a popular blog exposing human rights abuses

The pair were found guilty of posting political articles on a banned website called Free Journalists' Club, as well as posting articles critical of the government on their own blogs.

A third blogger, who pleaded guilty, had his sentence reduced from four years to three.

Meanwhile the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Le Quoc Quan was being held for tax evasion.

He was treated in hospital in August after being beaten up by men he believed were state agents.

The dissident was so fearful of being assaulted again since the August incident that he had reportedly begun carrying a golf club for self-defence.

Le Quoc Quan was detained in 2007 for three months on his return from an American government-funded fellowship in Washington.

He writes a popular blog exposing human rights abuses and other issues not covered by the state media.

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency in September, he said that he and his family and staff had received frequent warnings from the authorities.

But he pledged to carry on speaking out against the government and in support of multi-party democracy and freedom of speech.

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