Vietnam jails second dissident blogger in a week

A Vietnamese blogger who posted online calls for democracy has been jailed for five years, official media said Saturday, the second web dissident imprisoned this week in an ongoing crackdown on activists.

Le Thanh Tung was convicted of "propaganda against the state" by a Hanoi court over Internet articles for the banned Vietnam Freedom and Democracy Movement, said the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece, Nhan Dan newspaper.

The court, which found him guilty Friday of distorting the policies of the state and the party, also handed down a subsequent sentence of four years' house arrest.

The 44-year-old had called for pluralism, multi-party democracy and constitutional amendments in the online posts, which were published between August 2009 and October 2011, the report said.

Charges of spreading anti-state propaganda and attempting to overthrow the regime are routinely laid against dissidents in authoritarian Vietnam, where the Communist Party forbids political debate.

On Thursday, dissident blogger Dinh Dang Dinh, a 49-year-old former teacher, was sentenced to six years in prison for similar charges in central Dak Nong province.

New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Vietnam of an "intolerance for free speech" in a statement in response to Dinh's conviction.

The group says at least 11 activists have been convicted and given long prison terms so far this year, with at least a further seven bloggers and activists awaiting trial.

Authorities recently delayed the trial of well-known bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan, who are accused of "denigrating the party and state", after authorities launched a probe into the death of Tan's mother, who set herself on fire in front of a local authority building late last month.

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