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Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Vietnam jails democracy activist Pham Thanh Nghien

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Dissident writer Pham Thanh Nghien has been jailed for four years in Vietnam after being found guilty of spreading propaganda against the state.

Nghien was also sentenced to three years under house arrest at the trial in the northern city of Haiphong, her lawyer told the BBC.

She was the latest of several Vietnamese dissidents to receive harsh sentences in recent weeks.

Last week four activists were jailed on charges of subversion.

Nghien was arrested in September 2008 after criticising Vietnam's policies towards China over disputed maritime claims.

She had displayed two banners at her home and posted pictures of the protest on the internet.

But those charges were dropped before the trial and she was tried for her writing and interviews with foreign media groups in which she criticised the government.

The BBC's Nga Pham in the region says the guilty verdict was largely expected and has been seen as part of a large crackdown on activism.

Clampdown criticism

Nghien - who was given an award by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2008 for her pro-democracy activism - was charged under Section 88 of the penal code, which critics say criminalises peaceful dissent.

The one-day trial was closed to western media and diplomats and her lawyers said her mother was also prevented from attending.

Her conviction comes a week after four people, including prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, were found guilty of trying to overthrow the Communist government.

The four men received sentences of up to 16 years on charges of subversion.

Our correspondent says the trials show a concerted effort by the government to send the message that no form of political dissent will be tolerated, especially with an important Communist Party Congress due next January.



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SEE ALSO
Vietnam's new breed of dissident
21 Jan 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam jails democracy activists
20 Jan 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam lawyer subversion charge
24 Dec 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam reporter freed in amnesty
16 Jan 09 |  Asia-Pacific



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