A well-known Vietnamese blogger who went by the screen name “Mother Mushroom” was sentenced to ten years in prison on Thursday for publishing “anti-state propaganda.”
Yahoo News reports that in a trial decried by rights group as “outrageous,” a prominent Vietnamese blogger has been sentenced to ten years in jail for publishing “anti-state propaganda.” Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who goes by the screen name “Mother Mushroom,” was arrested in October of 2016 and charged with the publishing of anti-state propaganda based on Facebook posts that were critical of the Vietnamese government. Vietnam’s one-party government keeps a tight control on voices of dissent, regularly jailing journalists and activists who speak out against the country’s Communist regime.
Following the court’s judgment, Nhu Quynh’s lawyer, Nguyen Kha Thanh told the AFP, “I am not happy with the result of the trial today.” AFP was banned from attending the trial in the south-central Khanh Hoa province, but Thahn stated that Quynh was calm throughout the entire trial and would likely appeal the verdict. In a pre-trial statement, Quynh stated her innocence and sent a message to her children.
Thanh stated, “She apologised 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 stated that Quynh was charged under Article 88 of the Vietnamese criminal code and had no access to lawyers until June 20. Quynh has been a vocal critic of the Vietnamese human rights record and the governments handling of a toxic leak that led to the killing of tons of fish last year. Quynh was arrested while visiting a fellow activist in prison on October 10.
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director, said in a statement on Wednesday, “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.” The United States, Britain, and the European Union have all also called for the release of Quynh. When asked about the case, Le Thi Thu Hang a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “all acts that violate the law will be seriously punished in accordance with Vietnamese laws.”
Quynh received an International Woman of Courage Award from the U.S. State Department in March which the Vietnamese government said was, “not appropriate and of no benefit for the development of relations between the two countries.”