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Vietnam court sentences pro-democracy activist to prison for assault

[JURIST] A Vietnamese court on Friday sentenced pro-democracy writer and rights activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy to three-and-a-half years in prison on assault charges. Thuy and her husband, who received two years' house arrest, were convicted [RFA report, in Vietnamese] in a one-day trial of assaulting two men during an argument about the parking of their motorbike. Thuy maintains that the men attacked her husband without provocation and that she acted only to come to her husband's defense. Her arrest has been condemned by members of the US Congress [press release, PDF] who called on the Vietnamese government to release human rights activists. Thuy, who has received the Hellman Prize for Persecuted Writers [HRW report], was last arrested in 2009 [Pen Report] after she publicly expressed support for six government dissidents facing trial. In 2007, she was imprisoned for nine months [HRW report] after founding an association to assist citizens with land claims against the government.

Vietnam has recently arrested and tried [JURIST news archive] several democracy activists. Last week a Vietnamese court sentenced Pham Thanh Nghien [JURIST report] to four years in prison on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda. Earlier in January four democracy activists were convicted [JURIST report] of subversion in a one-day trial. Prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh [JURIST news archive], Le Thang Long, and Nguyen Tien Trung were given prison sentences between 5-7 years, and Internet entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc received a 16-year sentence. Dinh was originally charged [JURIST report] with spreading propaganda under Article 88, but was eventually convicted of the more serious crime of subversion. Last month, pro-democracy dissident Tran Anh Kim was also sentenced [JURIST report] to five-and-a-half years in prison for subversion.

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