HANOI, March 4 (Reuters) – A court in Vietnam sentenced a former journalist to two years in prison on Tuesday for speaking out against the country’s communist rulers, a verdict the United States expressed deep concern over and called to be overturned.
Truong Duy Nhat, 50, was found to have “abused his freedoms to infringe upon the state’s interest” in posts on his blog, the last of which was in May last year, when he criticised the procedure for Vietnam first-ever parliamentary censure motion.
The sentence comes as part of a widening crackdown on Vietnamese who have criticised various government issues, despite free speech being guaranteed under the constitution and the country being awarded a seat last year on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Most arrests and jail terms have involved bloggers or activists who posted comments on the Internet, which is used by a third of Vietnam’s 90 million people and is one of only a few available channels for dissent in a country where protests are rare and the media is tightly controlled by the state.
Nhat quit his journalist job in 2010 and ran a blog titled “Truong Duy Nhat – a different viewpoint” that was known for criticism of top government officials including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.