Cu Huy Ha Vu is to go on trial March 24 in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, his wife Nguyen Thi Duong Ha told AFP.

"Yes, it's true," she said, adding that he will be represented by four lawyers.

Vu is the son of Cu Huy Can, a celebrated poet who was also a member of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh's provisional cabinet after 1945.

Vu, who studied law in France but is not a licensed lawyer, was arrested in southern Ho Chi Minh City last November.

Under an indictment signed on February 17 he is accused of spreading propaganda against the state, between 2009 and October last year, through articles and interviews on the Internet, said the VNExpress news site.

He allegedly defamed the administration and advocated a multi-party system, the report said, citing investigators.

It said he is charged with the lesser of two types of propaganda charges, and could be jailed for between three and 12 years if convicted.

Allegations of "propaganda against the state" are commonly used against dissidents, and rights activists say the charge criminalises peaceful dissent.

In 2009 Vu filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over a controversial bauxite mine project. His complaint was rejected.

He was arrested during heightened tensions in the lead-up to the ruling Communist Party's five-yearly Congress meeting on leadership and policy in January.

VNExpress cited Hoang Kong Tu, head of the investigative police, as saying Vu published false information that slandered and hurt the honour of state leaders.

Leaders of the one-party regime re-affirmed in January that they are "determined" not to allow political pluralism.

Agence France Presse - March 12, 2011