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Vietnam jails blogger for criticizing government

The Hanoi Supreme People's Court [official website, in Vietnamese] in Vietnam on Wednesday sentenced blogger Oham Viet Dao to 15 months in prison for posting articles criticizing the government. Dao's sentence follows that of popular blogger Truong Duy Nhat, who was sentenced [BBC report] to two years in prison on the same charges a few days earlier. Dao, who represented himself in court, confessed and apologized [AP report] for the "erroneous" details in his articles, but went on to say that he did not do so intentionally and did not think that the articles have negatively impacted society. The court stated that his comparatively light sentence was due to the sincerity of his apology, though Judge Ngo Tu Hoc maintained that Dao's acts were dangerous to society and reduced the people's trust in the leadership of the Communist Party and the state.

The Vietnamese government has faced sharp criticism in recent months of its human rights policies, especially regarding detainment and prison sentences. In February the Supreme People's Court of Vietnam upheld [JURIST report] the conviction of US-trained lawyer Le Quoc Quan, a known anti-government activist. In December that court sentenced[JURIST report] two former executives to death on corruption charges. Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Vietnamese authorities in November of using repressive laws against anti-government activists. In October, the same month as Quan's initial trial, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the National Assembly of Vietnam [official website] to bring the country's constitution in line with international human rights standards.

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