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Vietnam court upholds prominent blogger's 10-year jail term, lawyer says

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Vietnam court upholds prominent blogger's 10-year jail term, lawyer says

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(Reuters) - A court in Vietnam on Thursday upheld a 10-year jail sentence for a prominent blogger convicted of publishing propaganda against the state, her lawyer said, the latest move in a crackdown on critics of the one-party state. Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness towards social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism. In recent months, it has targeted critics whose voices have been amplified by social media in a country that ranks among Facebook's top ten, in terms of users. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, known as "Me Nam" (Mother Mushroom), who gained prominence for blogging about environment issues and deaths in police custody, was found guilty in June for distributing what police called anti-state reports. A court in the central city of Nha Trang upheld Quynh's sentence, one of her lawyers said. "This sentence is not objective and is unfair," Ha Huy Son told Reuters by telephone. "Quynh said she is innocent and she carried out her right as a citizen." Her mother was denied access to the hearing, he added. The mother could not immediately be reached for comment. In March 2009, Quynh spent nine days in police detention for receiving funds from Viet Tan, a California-based activist group which Vietnam calls a terrorist group, to print T-shirts with slogans against a major bauxite project, police said. Quynh has also spoken out against a subsidiary of Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp that caused one of Vietnam's biggest environmental disasters in April. On Monday a prominent rights lawyer who has represented Quynh said the bar federation in the southcentral province of Phu Yen had revoked his licence to practice law just days before Quynh's appeal hearing. (Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Clarence Fernandez)
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