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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blogger "Mother Mushroom" jailed for 10 years

A prominent Vietnamese blogger known as "Mother Mushroom" received a 10-year prison sentence after a brief trial that rights groups called "outrageous" Thursday. The blogger gets her pen name from her daughter's nickname.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested in October 2016 then charged with anti-state propaganda over Facebook posts critical of the government. 

The "Nam's" one-party state doesn't allow for dissent and routinely jails activists, bloggers and even lawyers who speak out against the communist regime. [Put that in your bongs and smoke it, commie lovers].

The 37-year-old woman had a closed-door trial and could have faced a maximum of 12 years, but the 10-year sentence was still quite "harsh," according to her lawyer. 

"I am not happy with the result of the trial today," Nguyen Kha Thanh told AFP. 

Quynh will appeal.

The press was barred from attending the one-day trial in Khanh Hoa province, which was heavily guarded by police, according to social media.

"Mother Mushroom" was calm throughout the trial, her lawyer said. In a pre-sentence statement, she admitted no guilt but instead used the opportunity to send a message to her two children and mother. "She apologized to her mother and the two kids for what effect this has had on them, but she said they must be very proud of her," Thanh told AFP.

Quynh was charged under Article 88 of Vietnam's criminal code and held incommunicado with no access  to an attorney until June 20, according to Thanh.

She has been a vocal critic of Vietnam's human rights record and civilian deaths in police custody. She has also been critical of the government's handling of a toxic leak that killed tons of fish last year.

Her arrest came October 10 last year while visiting a fellow activist in prison.

In the verdict, the judge said Quynh had defamed the government, harmed national security, eroded popular trust of the government and undermined national security.

The conviction included her publishing of alleged inaccurate information to humiliate the police and erode public trust in them based on her reports regarding police brutality.

"The scandal here is not what Mother Mushroom said, but Hanoi's stubborn refusal to repeal draconian, rights-abusing laws that punish peaceful dissent and tarnish Vietnam's international reputation," Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director said in a statement Wednesday. 

The United States, the European Union and Britain have called for Quynh's release.

Quynh received the International Woman of Courage Award from the US State Department in March, which Vietnam said was "not appropriate and of no benefit for the development of relations between the two countries."

She also was award the Civil Rights Defender of the Year by a Sweden-based international advocacy group in 2015.

She is not an advocate of fake news.