5 Vietnamese sentenced to 3-5 years in jail for flying flags of old Saigon regime

By Staff reporters   December 21, 2017 | 05:55 pm GMT+7
5 Vietnamese sentenced to 3-5 years in jail for flying flags of old Saigon regime
A file photo by VnExpress shows a parade to commemorate the unification day 30th April in Ho Chi Minh City.

Police arrested the gang of five in April shortly before the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

A court in An Giang Province in southern Vietnam sentenced five people to between three and five years in jail on Thursday for "conducting anti-government propaganda".

The defendants, aged between 23 and 38 years old, were caught putting up nearly 30 flags from the U.S.-backed Saigon regime around the streets of An Giang on April 25 this year, just five days before Vietnam celebrated the unification anniversary.

One member of the group was arrested on April 30 and quickly led police to the others, who admitted to having made and distributed the yellow flags with three red stripes belonging to the old Saigon regime, local media reported.

They reportedly told investigators they had been manipulated by reports that painted a bad picture of Vietnam’s government and ruling Communist Party that led them to form an opposition group.

All five will also be put under house arrest for two years after they finish their jail terms.

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code, anti-government propaganda is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail, and several people have been sent to prison this year for the offense.

Last month, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to seven years in jail after being found guilty of “complicating public security” by posting anti-government material during the Formosa toxic spill disaster in April last year.

In October, Vietnam sentenced a 24-year-old man to six years in jail for posting “fabricated” information on social media with the help of the U.S.-based group Viet Tan, an organization Vietnam has declared a terrorist group.

In July, blogger Tran Thi Nga, 40, was sentenced to nine years in prison for posting anti-state propaganda videos on the internet.

The month before, blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who was arrested in October 2016, received a 10-year sentence for publishing what authorities called distorted stories and videos about the Communist Party and the government on Facebook. She subsequently filed an appeal but it was rejected in November.

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