HANOI (Reuters) – Courts in Vietnam handed prison sentences to two activists on Thursday, as the communist-ruled government widens a crackdown on dissent.
A court in the northcentral province of Nghe An sentenced Nguyen Viet Dung to seven years in prison for posting “anti-state propaganda” on his Facebook account, police said.
Despite sweeping economic and social reforms in Vietnam, the ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism. It has been stepping up sentencing and arrests of activists and handing them longer jail terms.
Dung, 32, was charged with posting information on his Facebook account last year that distorted the policies of the party and the state and defamed state leaders, the police said, citing the indictment.
Dung, who was jailed for a year in 2015 for causing public disorder, will also face five years of house arrest after serving his latest prison term, police said.
“These trumped-up charges, used to attack peaceful activists like Nguyen Viet Dung and many other dissidents before him, show just how easy it is for the government to harass, detain, prosecute and imprison any person,” said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.