An appeals court in northern Vietnam’s Thai Binh province upheld the sentence of jailed democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc on Friday, returning him to prison to serve his full term of 13 years, Vietnamese source said.
Tuc, a member of the banned Brotherhood for Democracy online advocacy group, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on April 10 on charges of subversion under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code.
He had previously spent four years in prison after being convicted in 2008 of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the penal code, and was freed in 2012 after serving his full term.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service following Friday’s hearing, Tuc’s wife Bui Thi Re had shown great bravery in court.
“He said that he had joined the Brotherhood to demand [political] pluralism and equality for the people and the country, and that he had never worked to overthrow the government.”
“He was very firm,” Re said.
“At the moment his blood pressure is stable,” Re said, referring to earlier reports that Tuc had been in failing health in custody.
“And he said today that though he had filed an appeal, he did not expect that his sentence would be reduced. Instead, he wanted to be sure that he could say what he needed to say in court and reject the accusations made against him.”
Writing in a Sept. 12 statement, New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Vietnam’s government to immediately “quash the politically motivated conviction of the rights activist Nguyen Van Tuc and immediately release him without conditions.”
“Nguyen Van Tuc is a victim of the Vietnamese government’s escalating crackdown on human rights bloggers and social activists,” HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.
“The long sentences faced by Nguyen Van Tuc and his fellow Brotherhood for Democracy activists are all about intimidating other activists not to follow in their footsteps.”
Communist Vietnam, where all media are state-controlled, does not tolerate dissent, and rights groups identify Article 79 as among a set of vague provisions that authorities have used to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.