Vietnamese former lawyer jailed for 15 years for 'activities to overthrow government'

By Minh Minh   April 6, 2018 | 11:34 am GMT+7
Vietnamese former lawyer jailed for 15 years for 'activities to overthrow government'
Nguyen Van Dai (front, L) stands trial in Hanoi on Thursday for plotting to overthrow the government. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
Nguyen Van Dai and five other people were accused of receiving $83,000 from overseas to sponsor efforts to build a multi-party system.

A court in Hanoi sentenced six people to between seven and 15 years in jail on Thursday, accusing them of attempting to replace the country’s leadership.

Former lawyer Nguyen Van Dai received a 15-year sentence after being identified as the leader of the anti-government movement. Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Le Thu Ha and Pham Van Troi received between nine and 12 years.

They were charged with “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” and will be held under house arrest for between one to five years after serving their jail terms.

Dai, 49, from Hanoi, was accused of establishing the “Brotherhood for Democracy” with Troi, Ton and Truyen in March 2013, and recruiting members to conduct activities in opposition with the people’s administration, the indictment said, as cited by Vietnam News Agency.

Duc and Ha were active members.

The group had conducted activities aimed to change the leadership of Vietnam’s Communist Party and “build a multi-party system” in Vietnam, the indictment said.

They had received nearly $83,000 from individuals and organizations overseas to support their operations, it said, adding that the group had made initial success in building and training forces to take control of the country.

“They were not fighting for democracy; they were trying to overthrow the people’s administration,” it said.

The court said the defendants’ activities were “especially dangerous” for directly threatening the existence of the administration.

The maximum penalty for conducting activities to overthrow the government is death in Vietnam.

The trial on Thursday was the biggest of its kind in recent years and drew widespread media attention.

At a press briefing on Thursday, in response to a reporter's question about several human rights organizations condemning the trial, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said securing human rights is Vietnam's "consistent policy," but any violations of the law will be duely punished.

"In Vietnam, there is no such thing as a 'prisoner of conscience', and there's no such thing as people being arrested for 'freely expressing opinions,'" Hang said.

Last October, a woman from the central province of Ha Tinh was also arrested for trying to overthrow the government.

Vietnam sentenced two bloggers to four and 14 years in jail for anti-state propaganda in separate cases this year. Several others were sentenced to up to 10 years in jail for similar violations last year.

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