Bloggers in Vietnam on trial for criticizing the government

By Elizabeth Shim  |  March 23, 2016 at 2:46 PM
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HANOI, Vietnam, March 23 (UPI) -- Two bloggers in Vietnam are on trial for criticizing the ruling communist party.

Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy were imprisoned in 2014 for posting commentary online that cast a shadow of doubt over Hanoi's policies, Voice of America reported.

Vinh, 59, is a former police officer in the Ministry of Public Security in Hanoi. He and Thuy are facing charges of "abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interests of the state" under Article 258 of Vietnam's penal code, Radio Free Asia reported.

The blog was launched in 2007, and the pair continued to blog on two other sites covering democratic issues that included the rights of citizens and Vietnamese history.

The blog included news stories that linked to state media but also commentary on current events.

State media said the two bloggers are being charged with posting more than 20 articles with "untruthful and groundless content," and the government has said the stories "present a one-sided and pessimistic view, causing anxiety and worry, and affecting the people's confidence" in the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Ha Huy Son, Vinh's lawyer, said his clients deny the charges.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the Vietnamese government's policy. Amnesty has requested the bloggers' immediate release.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the bloggers were detained for nearly two years "simply for criticizing the Vietnam Communist Party and its leadership, even though the government has ratified international human rights law that unequivocally protects their actions."

Vietnam is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects the right of citizens to criticize their government.

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