The cases against the two men and one woman are some of the most high-profile currently being undertaken by the country’s Communist rulers as they step up their campaign against bloggers and other pro-democracy activists.

President Barack Obama mentioned the case of one of them — Nguyen Van Hai, who wrote under the pen name Dieu Cay — in a speech that called for greater freedom for media around the world.

In late July, the mother of another defendant, Ta Phong Tan, self-immolated outside a government office to protest the treatment of her daughter.

Lawyer Ha Huy Son said the three were put on trial by the People’s Court in southern Ho Chi Minh City. The verdict could come as soon as later Monday.

Hai, Tan and the third blogger — Phan Thanh Hai — belong to “Free Journalists Club”, a group of citizen journalists who posted their work on the Internet.

Tan, a former police officer, wrote a blog called “Justice and Truth” that criticized police abuse of power.

Nguyen Van Hai criticized the government for its handling of tensions with neighboring China over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

They are accused of posting and writing hundreds of articles that “distorted and opposed” the communist government.

International rights groups have condemned the trial and called for the release of the defendants.

“Vietnam’s arbitrary use of vaguely worded national security laws to imprison critics of the government means bloggers are bearing the brunt of this assault on freedom of expression,” Brad Adams, Asia director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement last week.

The Associated Press - September 24, 2012