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Vietnam jails activist for using Facebook to abuse freedoms

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A court in northern Vietnam has sentenced an activist to five years in prison after finding him guilty of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the government, organizations and individuals.

Lawyer Ha Huy Son said his client, Do Cong Duong, was convicted in a two-hour trial Friday by a people’s court in Bac Ninh province, 32 kilometers (20 miles) east of Hanoi.

Son said Duong used Facebook to accuse local officials of corruption and failing to address his family’s land grievances. He said local law enforcement agencies accused Duong of abusing democratic freedoms instead of investigating his allegations.

“The nature (of the case) is of economic interests and land grievances. The local law enforcement agencies, however, did not consider his allegations, but instead prosecuted him and put him on trial … and determined that he opposed the Communist Party and the regime,” Son said.

Last month, Duong, 54, was sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted of disturbing public order by disrupting land clearance for a residential project.

Vietnamese Communist authorities tolerate no challenge to their one-party rule despite sweeping economic reforms since the mid-1980s that opened up the country to foreign trade and investment and made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.

They have stepped up a crackdown on dissent in recent years, with scores of activists, bloggers and democracy campaigners in jail on charges of violating national security laws.

There are over 100 “prisoners of conscience” in Vietnamese prisons, according to Amnesty International.

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