Vietnamese Dissident Calls Conviction Unjust

A Vietnamese activist says his conviction for using the social media site Facebook to criticize the government was unjust.

In an interview with VOA’s Vietnamese Service after being released, Dinh Nhat Uy said he should not have been charged under penal code.

“My posts on Facebook regarding the protection of Vietnam’s sovereignty, people’s legitimate rights, and anti-corruption efforts do not violate any laws. What I have done is beneficial to people and does not do any harm,” he said.

He was arrested after writing posts on Facebook critical of the four year prison sentence given to his brother in August following in a highly publicized trial of two anti-China student activists. Interviews with VOA and other media outlets were cited in the charges against Dinh.

A court in southern Long An province found him guilty Tuesday, but suspended his 15 month prison sentence and released him from detention.

Afterward, he defended his online campaign against his brother’s imprisonment for spreading anti-government propaganda.

“I had to protect my brother. But it is not about him anymore. I will continue to speak out against injustices,” he said.

He is the first online activist publicly charged under Vietnam’s controversial new Article 258, which provides criminal penalties for “abusing freedoms to infringe upon the state’s interests”.

This is believed to be the first such case in Vietnam to mention Facebook by name.

U.S. based Human Rights Watch reports 61 dissidents and political activists have been convicted and sentenced to prison in 2013, compared to about 40 such convictions a year earlier.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.)