Vietnam Dissident Lawyer Sentenced to 30 Months in Jail
By Bloomberg News – Oct 2, 2013 5:44 AM ET
Vietnamese lawyer Le Quoc Quan, a blogger critical of the Communist government, was sentenced to 30 months in jail for tax evasion during a one-day trial at the People’s Court in Hanoi today.
Quan, who could have been sentenced to as long as seven years in prison, plans to appeal, his lawyer, Tran Thu Nam, said in a phone interview after the verdict. The trial was originally scheduled to be held in July, about two weeks before Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang met with President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss trade and human rights.
“The use of tax laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is disturbing,” the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement. The sentence “appears to be inconsistent with the rights to freedom of expression and Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and commitments reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the embassy said.
The verdict comes after the Vietnamese government implemented an Internet law Sept. 1 that has drawn criticism from international Internet companies and countries including the U.S.
“It’s political theater,” said Carlyle Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. “When dissidents stand up to the government, they are intimidated, arrested and given a perfunctory trial. He can walk out of prison and they can arrest him again.”
Quan, born in 1971, was arrested on Dec. 27 after the British Broadcasting Corporation published an article he wrote that criticized the government’s decision to retain part of the constitution that guarantees the domination of the Communist Party, according to Human Rights Watch.
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