Vietnamese prosecutors indict govt critic: media

A prominent government critic in Vietnam has been indicted on charges of spreading propaganda against the state and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to Vietnamese state media.

Cu Huy Ha Vu is accused of posting material on the Internet advocating the introduction of a multi-party system and defaming the administration and state institutions, Vietnam News reported.

“The authorities took Vu’s acts seriously and prosecuted him,” the English-language daily said.

Under Vietnamese law, prosecutors will now send the case to court, which will consider whether it should go to trial.

“Litigators think Cu Huy Ha Vu’s violation is serious and needs to be seriously punished by law,” the online edition of the Lao Dong newspaper reported, saying he would be defended by three lawyers.

The allegation against Vu, who studied law in France, is commonly used against dissidents. Rights activists say it criminalises peaceful dissent.

Vu, who was arrested last month in southern Ho Chi Minh City, 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.

Last year, Vu filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over a controversial bauxite mine project but his complaint was rejected.

Authorities also rejected a bid by Vu’s law firm to represent at trial several Catholic parishioners convicted in October in connection with a dispute over a cemetery.

They are among a series of community activists, dissidents and bloggers reported to have been convicted, arrested or charged since October 1.

Observers say Vietnam is carrying out a fresh crackdown against bloggers and activists as political tensions rise before a Communist Party Congress in January. – Yahoo News