US alarmed as Vietnam jails dissidents for blocking traffic
Published on Aug 27, 2014 3:39 AM
HANOI (Reuters) - The United States expressed alarm over Vietnam's jailing of three activists on Tuesday for obstructing traffic, charges described by rights groups as trumped-up and aimed at crushing freedom of expression.
A court in southern Dong Thap province found them guilty of"causing public disorder" and handed out sentences of between two and three years, the latest sign of Vietnam's zero-tolerance approach to dissent at a time when its communist rulers are seeking closer engagement with Western powers.
Rights groups monitoring the one-day trial said the defendants, Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh, had been arrested in February while riding in a convoy of motorcycles to visit a former political prisoner interrogated by police a day earlier.
"The use of public disorder laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is alarming," the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement late on Tuesday, urging the unconditional release of all political prisoners.
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