Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday after the People’s Court in Khanh Hoa Province found her guilty of “spreading propaganda” against the government.
The charges against Quynh, also known as Mẹ Nấm, or Mother Mushroom, were based on her Facebook posts and interviews she did with CNN, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America.
According to RFA, the 38-year-old blogger was arrested on Oct. 10, 2016, for her thoughts on the deaths of people in police custody, Vietnam’s sovereignty over the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, and how the government handled a toxic waste spill off the central coast in April 2016.
The prison sentence of Quynh has been heavily criticized by several human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), which demanded that all charges against her be dropped.
“The Vietnamese government uses vague national security laws to silence activists and throttle free speech,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW. “International donors should not watch silently as activists like Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh are jailed for a decade for defending the human rights of all Vietnamese.”
Evidence against Quynh for anti-state blogging reportedly included a document titled “Stop police killing civilians”, which the police claimed “bears a hostile viewpoint against the people’s police force. The document makes the readers misunderstand the nature of the problem, offends and lowers the prestige of the people’s police force, and harms the relationship between the people and the police force.”
From October 2011 to September 2014, there were 226 cases of death in detention facilities, including Nguyen Quoc Bao, Nguyen Van Khuong, Trinh Xuan Tung, Tu Ngoc Thach, and Y Ket Bdap, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) have also condemned today’s conviction and prison sentence of Quynh, calling for “her immediate and unconditional release”.