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Vietnam court sentences pro-democracy advocate for subversion

[JURIST] A Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced pro-democracy dissident Tran Anh Kim to five and a half years in prison for subversion under Article 79 [text] of the Vietnamese penal code. During a four-hour trial Kim admitted being to member of the banned groups Democracy Party of Vietnam and Bloc 8406 [group manifesto, PDF]. He could have faced the death penalty for the crime, but was given leniency [AFP report] due to a history of military service. Kim is one of five dissidents arrested in June and July by Vietnam's communist government. The remaining suspects, including prominent Vietnamese pro-democracy lawyer Le Cong Dinh [HRW release], are expected to go on trial [BBC report] on January 20.

Dinh was charged [JURIST report] with "colluding with foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese State," in violation of Article 88 [text] of the Vietnamese penal code, for the alleged distribution of anti-government documents. He was also disbarred [JURIST report] following his arrest. Earlier this year, two Vietnamese newspaper editors were dismissed from their jobs for protesting the arrests of two journalists [JURIST reports] who reported on government corruption. The arrested reporters, who were accused of 'abusing freedom and democracy,' were sentenced to two years of prison and "re-education" for reporting on the so-called PMU 18 corruption scandal [JURIST reports].

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