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EU and US condemn blogger verdict
Vietnam urged to honor international law and release them
- Asia Desk, Bangkok
- September 25, 2012
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said in a statement today that she had â€śserious concernsâ€ť over the trial and that the â€śsentences in this case appear to be particularly severe.â€ť
She added: â€śThe EU recalls the fundamental right of all persons to hold and freely express their opinions in a peaceful manner.â€ť
Nguyen Van Hai and Marie Ta Phong Tan received sentences of 12 years and 10 years, respectively, with five additional years of house arrest, while Phan Than Hai received a four-year sentence and three years of house arrest.
The bloggers were found guilty of spreading â€śpropaganda against the state.â€ť
Ashton urged Vietnam to â€śrespect its international obligations and to release the convicted bloggers immediately.â€ť
The US State Department issued a statement yesterday also condemning the verdict.
â€śWe are deeply troubled by the convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who appear to have done nothing more than exercise their right to freedom of expression,â€ť said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in the statement.
â€śThese convictions are the latest in a series of moves by Vietnamese authorities to restrict freedom of expression. The Vietnamese government should release these three bloggers, all prisoners of conscience, and adhere to its international obligations immediately,â€ť she added in the statement.
Nuland further noted that a free media was essential to an open and just society, and that protection of human rights â€śis a necessary step in developing a closer, more mature bilateral relationship.â€ť
During the trial yesterday, which lasted less than six hours, Nguyen Van Hai was quoted by the Agence France Presse (AFP)Â news agency as saying, â€śI just feel frustrated by injustice, corruption, dictatorship which does not represent the state but some individuals.â€ť
He added: â€śAccording to Vietnamese laws, citizens have the right to freedom of speech and it is in accordance with international treaties to which Vietnam is party,â€ť AFP quoted him as saying before his microphone was turned off.
Court sentences Christian bloggers