Cu Huy Ha Vu, 53, the well-known son of a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader, was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years under house arrest at the one-day trial Monday on charges of conducting propaganda against the state.

One of Vu's four defense attorneys was ejected from the courtroom for repeatedly asking the judge to read in full or provide copies of 10 interviews Vu gave to foreign media, which were used as key evidence against him.

The three other attorneys walked out in protest, leaving Vu to defend himself.

The Associated Press - April 6, 2011


Dissident lawyer sent to jail in Vietnam

HANOI - A court in Hanoi sentenced a dissident lawyer to seven years in prison for "conducting anti-propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

Police arrested Cu Huy Ha Vu Nov. 4 after he wrote articles and posted them on the Internet. He also gave interviews criticizing the communist government.

Vu denied all charges, saying the case was "invented" against him and the trial was "completely illegal."

Several days after Vu's arrest, the Ministry of Public Security's Investigation Agency gave a news conference to announce his detention, saying he was taken into custody at Mach Lam Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for having sexual relations with a prostitute.

Police seized Vu's mobile phone and laptop computer and searched his house in Hanoi the day of his arrest. Documents allegedly found included articles calling for the overthrow of the communist government, which has been in power since North Vietnam succeeded in overthrowing the South Vietnam regime in what was Saigon in 1975.

Vietnam media said Vu was "calling for pluralism, multiparty and foreign intervention which goes contrary to the nation's interest."

He also "granted more than 20 interviews to anti-Vietnam overseas reactionary elements, radios and newspapers and transferred his own documents to them to use in oppose the Vietnamese state." He "distorted information on the state's leadership and management to incite the public to rise up against the state."

A judge in court, which was closed to foreign journalists but who watched proceedings on closed-circuit television, said Vu was "harmful to society" and he had "blackened directly or indirectly the Communist Party of Vietnam."

Vu, 54, is a son of a Vietnamese poet Cu Huy Can -- a close friend of Ho Chi Minh, the most famous communist leader during the Indochina War with colonial power France starting in 1945 and also during the Vietnam War.

Vu graduated with a doctorate in law from France's University of Paris.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Vietnam's "apparent lack of due process" for Vu's trial raised questions about Hanoi's commitment to the rule of law.

Human Rights Watch condemned the detention of Vu and earlier this month called for his release. During the past five years, Vu "has emerged as one of the most prominent defenders of cultural, environmental, and human rights in Vietnam," a Human Rights Watch statement said.

"Cu Huy Ha Vu is being tried for his political bravery in peacefully challenging abuses of power, defending victims of land confiscation, and protecting the environment," Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

"The government makes a mockery of its international human rights obligations when it persecutes activists like Dr. Cu who try to use the legal system to demand official accountability and rule of law."

United Press International - April 6, 2011


EU concerned over Vietnam dissident's case

Europe joined the United States on Thursday in expressing deep concern over the jailing of a prominent Vietnamese dissident, saying the country's international reputation is at stake.

In one of the communist nation's most politically charged cases in years, Cu Huy Ha Vu, 53, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Monday for anti-state propaganda activities, including advocating an end to one-party communist rule.

He was convicted over his writings, interviews with foreign media, and Internet material issued since 2009.

"This conviction is not consistent with the fundamental right of all persons to hold opinions and freely and peacefully express them," the European Union (EU) delegation in Hanoi said in a statement.

It said the seven-year jail term, followed by three years' house arrest, "is particularly severe and we are also deeply concerned by the apparent lack of due process in the conduct of the trial".

The EU also expressed concern over the detention of several people it said were peacefully seeking to observe the hearing, which took place under unusually tight security.

"The esteem of the international community for Vietnam, and Vietnam's own long-term economic progress are not sustainable if peaceful expression, particularly on key issues for the future of the people and the country, is suppressed," the EU said.

Vietnam on Thursday confirmed that two other prominent dissidents, Pham Hong Son and Le Quoc Quan, were detained "for causing public disorder" and are under investigation.

Diplomatic sources said earlier the pair were arrested while standing outside the court complex during Vu's trial.

Vu's father was a member of revered founding president Ho Chi Minh's provisional cabinet from 1945.

The French-trained legal expert was charged after twice trying to sue prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung over a controversial bauxite mining plan and a decree that prevented class-action petitions.

In a separate case, Vietnam on Thursday confirmed that French-Vietnamese lecturer Pham Minh Hoang, who has been held in custody since August, is to be prosecuted for plotting to overthrow the government.

"Authorities are finalising the file to prosecute before the law," the foreign ministry said in a written statement responding to inquiries by foreign reporters. There were no further details.

Official media last year quoted an investigator as saying Hoang allegedly wrote articles "distorting the state's policies and activities".

Hoang went to France in 1973 but returned after 27 years to settle in Vietnam, where he worked as a mathematics lecturer at the Polytechnic University of HCM City, his wife said after his arrest.

France's foreign ministry in September voiced "serious concern" about the case and said it would push for a "favourable outcome".

On Monday the US State Department voiced "deep concern" over Vu's case.

Both the EU and the US said Vu's conviction was inconsistent with international human rights conventions to which Vietnam is a party. Hanoi denies the accusation.

"We have achieved significant progress on human rights and this has been recognised by the international community," foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters.

"And I believe that the promotion of human rights is also a factor contributing to the success of Vietnam and the development of Vietnam right now."

David Shear, nominated as the next US ambassador to Vietnam, on Wednesday saluted warming relations between the former enemies, but he told a Senate confirmation hearing that Vietnam needed to improve human rights for fuller ties.

Agence France Presse - April 9, 2011