Dissident Vietnamese Lawyer And Blogger Jailed

Reporters Without Borders reports that dissident lawyer and blogger Le Quoc Quan has been sentenced to 30-month prison sentence and fine of $59,000, by the Hanoi Court in Vietnam.

Court president Le Thi Hop announced after a half-day trial in Hanoi. The court also ordered the seizure of Quan’s assets worth $27,000.

“This clearly politically-motivated sentence is designed to gag and punish a dissident and is part of a strategy orchestrated by the Communist Party to persecute all independent news and information providers in Vietnam,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We deplore the way this trial was conducted, including the fact that the defendant’s relatives were not allowed into the courtroom and the way the authorities again manipulated the media. Quan is the victim of a judicial system that takes its orders from authoritarian party officials. He must be released.”

Reporters Without Borders claim that the trial prompted unprecedented demonstrations. Many activists and ordinary citizens gathered in Hanoi to show their support for Quan and protest against the persecution of bloggers, with demonstrators managing to block traffic on one of the capital’s main arteries.

Quan, 41, was arrested in December 2012, one day after posting an article criticizing article 4 of the constitution, which assigns the Communist Party a leading role in managing the country’s affairs. Quan's blogging includes calls for political pluralism, religious freedom and civil rights. Quan was instead charged and convicted of tax evasion.

Reporters Without Borders 2013 press freedom index ranks Vietnam 172nd out of 179 countries.

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