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Le Minh The was convicted for a series of Facebook posts. Photo: AP

Vietnam jails dissident for ‘reactionary’ Facebook posts that criticised state surveillance and long leases for foreign investors

  • Le Minh The was sentenced to two years in prison for ‘abusing democratic freedoms’ in the conservative communist state

A Vietnamese activist was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday for “abusing democratic freedoms” in the conservative communist state that has seen an uptick in dissident detentions under a hardline leadership.

Le Minh The was convicted for a series of Facebook posts following a half-day trial in southern Can Tho province, state media reported.

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He “deliberately posted and distributed reactionary propaganda information online, inciting, instigating and instructing others to protest and riot to overthrow the authorities”, according to Cong An Nhan Dan, the official mouthpiece of the Public Security Ministry.

He also live-streamed content that “defamed the party and the state (and) aimed to undermine the unity of the people”, the news site added.

He was sentenced to two years in jail for “abusing democratic freedoms”.

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The’s Facebook posts had protested against a controversial cybersecurity law that would require internet companies to hand over user data and remove content if requested by the government.
He had also criticised a draft law to grant foreign investors 99-year leases in special economic zones, a bill that sparked rare, nationwide protests last year.

Amnesty International slammed Wednesday’s verdict and called for all political prisoners to be released, adding that “this is yet another sham trial of a peaceful activist in Vietnam”.

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Vietnam jailed nearly 60 dissidents last year, several of whom received sentences of up to 20 years in prison, according to a tally of reports.

Observers say the crackdown is being waged by a conservative leadership in charge since 2016, which has also led a parallel anti-corruption campaign that has seen dozens of bankers, businessmen and former officials put behind bars.

Vietnam has consistently defended its rights record, even as it has come under fire by rights groups and foreign allies – including the US, the European Union and United Nations – over hefty sentences and high-profile arrests.