Cablegate: Another Dissident Convicted for "Anti-State Propaganda"
DE RUEHHI #0112 0291011
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 291010Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0810
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0429
UNCLAS HANOI 000112
STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL HURI VM
SUBJECT: Another Dissident Convicted for "Anti-State Propaganda"
REF: 09 HANOI 1084
1. (SBU) Following a half-day trial in Haiphong January 29, Ms.
Pham Thanh Nghien was sentenced to four years imprisonment followed
by three years administrative probation for "conducting propaganda
against the State." Nghien -- the 15th dissident convicted since
October 2009 -- was arrested in September 2008, a member of Bloc
8406 and close to many of the six dissidents sentenced in October
2009 to similar terms for displaying banners in Hanoi, Haiphong and
Hai Duong that were critical of the Communist Party and advocated
multi-party democracy (reftel). Nghien was not directly linked to
the banners, but was convicted for her online blogging and for
"defaming" the government in interviews with foreign journalists -
namely the BBC and Radio Free Asia. Nghien received Human Rights
Watch's Hellman/Hammett Award in 2009 for her online blogging.
2. (SBU) Nghien's attorney, Tran Vu Hai, told Poloff after the
trial that he did not contest that Nghien had authored the articles
listed in her indictment. Rather, he argued (unsuccessfully) that
her actions did not constitute a crime under Vietnamese law.
3. (SBU) The Foreign Ministry informed the Embassy late January 28
(without justification) that the Embassy could not observe the
trial, as we had requested. The Foreign Ministry denied similar
requests from other diplomatic missions and foreign journalists.