Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy, 31 and his cousin Nguyen Huu Thien An, 21, were convicted of "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," at a closed one-day trial, state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said late Tuesday.

Duy was found guilty of sharing "dozens of articles with wrongful viewpoints... distorting the party and state policy" on his Facebook page, VNA reported, citing the verdict from the court in Vietnam's southern Khanh Hoa province.

He was also accused of "requesting the elimination of the Communist Party leadership and state management", it added.

An was convicted for "regularly logging onto reactionary web pages with information defaming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam", the report said.

Duy was handed a three-year sentence, while An was given two years in jail.

Their charges fall under the controversial Article 88 of Vietnam's criminal code, which rights groups say is vaguely worded and routinely used to silence critics of the regime.

Human Rights Watch slammed the verdict and said the law allowed the government to "criminalise just about any comment that it wants to".

"It's hard to find a violation of freedom of expression more blatant than this one, in which Vietnam authorities are sending these two men to prison just because they posted critical comments on Facebook," HRW's Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

The United Nations' human rights body in Asia also expressed concern over the verdict and the use of Article 88 to "restrict peaceful exercise of fundamental rights."

Communist Vietnam is regularly criticised for its intolerance of dissent and prosecution of regime critics.

Lawyers, bloggers and activists are routinely subject to arbitrary arrests and detention in the country where private media banned and all newspapers and television channels are state-run.

Agence France Presse - August 24, 2016

Vietnam jails 2 activists for anti-government propaganda

A Vietnamese court in south-central province of Khanh Hoa has sentenced two activists to up to three years in prison for spreading anti-government propaganda.

The official Vietnam News Agency reported Wednesday that Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy, 31, was convicted of posting a dozen articles on his Facebook page that the court said distorted the policies of the Communist Party and government and had called for the overthrow of the government, and was given three years in jail at the one-day trial on Tuesday.

Duy's cousin, Nguyen Huu Thien An, 21, was found guilty of painting "reactionary" slogans on the wall of a local police station and was sentenced to two years in jail at the same trial.

The defendants' actions are "very serious, infringing on the strength of the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, reversing the people's confidence in the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and causing negative impact on the social order," the agency quoted the judges as saying.

They could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in jail, but the court gave them lighter sentences because they confessed and showed sincere remorse, the agency said.

Court officials declined to comment on Wednesday.

International rights groups and some Western governments have accused Vietnam of using vaguely worded security laws to jail people for peacefully expressing their views, Hanoi has said that only those who break the laws are put behind bars.

The Associated Press - August 24, 2016