Activists sentenced for “propaganda”

Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy (l) and his cousin were convicted of conducting propaganda against the state. Phoyo courtesy VNA

Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy on the right and his cousin were convicted of conducting propaganda against the state. Photo courtesy VNA

Two online activists have received jail terms at a trial in the southern coastal city of Nha Trang, as the authorities continue their crackdown on political campaigners.

In a one day session that was closed to fellow activists, Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy was sentenced to three years in prison. He was convicted under Article 88 of the penal code of spreading anti-government propaganda on his Facebook page.

His younger cousin, Nguyen Huu Thien An, received a two year term under the same provision, which is frequently used by the government to silence activists.

State media said that Duy had posted articles that distorted the policies of the Communist party and had called for the overthrow of the government.

His cousin was accused of daubing “reactionary” slogans on the wall of a police station.

The judge was quoted as saying that their actions were very serious and had damaged confidence in the leadership of the Communist party and hurt social order.

The reports said that the sentences were lighter than they could have been because the two men had confessed and shown remorse.

Duy had been held in custody for nine months before his case came to trial.

The authorities resumed trials for political offences in early 2016 after foregoing such prosecutions for more than a year. Analysts suspect the government was trying to improve its image on rights and freedoms while it negotiated terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the United States.

Supporters and family members, some of whom travelled from Ho Chi Minh City, were prevented from entering the courtroom to witness the trial.

Some told independent media afterwards that the sentences were unjust and exposed the arbitrary nature of the government’s treatment of its critics.