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A Vietnamese blogger has been sentenced to two years in prison for publishing posts critical of the country’s Communist government.

Truong Duy Nhat was sentenced March 4 under an indictment that said his posts “were not true (and) defamed leaders of the party and state, creating a one-sided pessimistic viewpoint,” according to Agence France Presse.

Nhat was arrested in May shortly after he published a post calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in his blog Nhat Mot Goc Nhin Khac (Another Point of View). He was charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organizations and citizens,” according to Reporters Without Borders.

Press groups consistently place Vietnam near the bottom of global rankings of press freedom. Vietnam had 18 reporters in jail in 2013, fifth-most in the world, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/imprisoned/2013.php Vietnam has an estimated 212 dissidents behind bars, including Buddhist monks, labor activists and land rights campaigners, the International Federation for Human Rights said March 6.
“Like many bloggers in Vietnam, Nhat helped fill an important gap left by Vietnam’s state-dominated and highly censored news media,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “He should not be imprisoned for merely expressing an opposition viewpoint.”

A lawyer for Nhat, 50, said the blogger would “stop appealing when the courts declare he is innocent; if they don’t, he will appeal to the end,” according to Radio Free Asia, U.S.-funded news service.

Governments including the U.S. and France condemned the sentence. “We call on the Vietnamese government to release Truong Duy Nhat and all prisoners of conscience, and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views,” a statement from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said.

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