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US 'deeply troubled' by fate of Vietnamese bloggers

26 september 2012, 11:52
0
Victoria Nuland. Photo coutesy of bamdadkhabar.com
Victoria Nuland. Photo coutesy of bamdadkhabar.com
The United States voiced concern Monday at the jailing of three Vietnamese bloggers for "anti-state propaganda" and urged that they be freed, AFP reports.

"We are deeply troubled by the convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who appear to have done nothing more than exercise their right to freedom of expression," said State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

A court in southern Vietnam jailed the three on Monday, including one whose case had been raised by US President Barack Obama.

After a trial lasting just a few hours, high-profile blogger Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Ta Phong Tan, a policewoman-turned-dissident whose mother self-immolated to protest her detention, was given 10 years and led from court screaming.

Phan Thanh Hai, the only one of the trio to plead guilty, was handed a four-year term after promising "not to commit the crime again and to have no further contact with anti-state people," he told the court.

"Punishing activists for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Nuland said.

So "the Vietnamese government should release these three bloggers, all prisoners of conscience, and adhere to its international obligations immediately," she added.

Private media are banned and all newspapers and television channels are state-run in the authoritarian country.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam 172 out of 179 countries in its 2011-2012 press freedom index and identified it as an "Enemy of the Internet" because of systematic use of cyber-censorship.

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