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article imageVietnam jails activist for six years after Facebook posts

By AFP     Jun 6, 2019 in Internet

Vietnam sentenced an environmental activist to six years in prison for "undermining" the government in Facebook posts, state media reported, the latest harsh sentence in a crackdown on online dissent.

At least 128 prisoners of conscience are now behind bars in the communist country, according to Amnesty International, with 10 percent jailed for social media posts.

A southern provincial court on Thursday sentenced Nguyen Ngoc Anh, 39, to six years in prison for "producing, disseminating or spreading information and documents aimed at undermining" the country, state-controlled Vietnam News Agency reported.

Citing an indictment, the report said Anh used social media to urge demonstrations in June and September last year.

The report did not specify the content of the posts but said they received 45,000 likes and more than 130,000 comments.

Independent media is banned in Vietnam and government critics rely on platforms like Facebook even though it is strictly monitored.

Fellow activists said Anh was a shrimp farmer active in widespread protests against a Taiwanese steel firm blamed for dumping toxic waste into Vietnamese waters in 2016.

Human Rights Watch said Anh publically boycotted national elections the same year and voiced support for political prisoners.

The group called for his immediate release.

Vietnam's stepped-up campaign against activists started in 2016 when a hardline administration took charge.

Last week a music teacher was arrested in central Vietnam on the same charge as Anh.

Earlier in May, two activists were sentenced to six and five years respectively for posting videos and articles on Facebook against proposed special economic zones and a beefed-up cybersecurity law.

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