Farm Don Trang, who has widely reported on human rights and alleged police brutality in Vietnam, has been convicted by a Hanoi court of “campaigning against the state”, according to his legal team and state-controlled media.
Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party has maintained tight media censorship and tolerated minor criticism, despite increasing openness to economic reform and social change.
The court was not called Tuesday to seek confirmation of the verdict.
“This is a long sentence and the maximum time for such actions is near,” said Nguyen Van Myung, one of his lawyers, who did not plead guilty at trial, and they will meet later to discuss the appeal.
Trang, 43, was arrested in October just hours after the annual US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, saying the US embassy would affect freedom of expression.
Dang Dinh Manh, another member of his legal team, said the nine-year prison sentence was harsh.
“The sentence is too long. The judges stressed that Trunk’s activities are dangerous to the community and the administration,” Mann said.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Asia for Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was an unacceptable sentence for a brave woman.
“The imprisonment of such a determined reformer, who was dedicated to promoting human rights, good governance and justice, is a great indictment of all the wrongdoings in dictatorial Vietnam today,” he said.
“In a democratic society, Trunk’s rich ideas and writings will be admired and admired instead of being considered criminals.”
In May 2016, Trong was stopped by police from attending a meeting with then US President Barack Obama and was invited by activists to join the forum.
Two years later, he was detained after meeting with European delegates preparing for the annual EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue.