Vietnam upholds 2-year jail term against blogger

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A court in central Vietnam has upheld a two-year jail sentence against a well-known dissident blogger for posting online criticism of the communist government.

Truong Duy Nhat was convicted of "abusing democratic freedoms" to infringe upon the interests of the state in March.

Lawyer Tran Vu Hai said Nhat maintained his innocence during the appeal hearing in central Danang City that lasted nearly two hours Thursday.

"We stressed that the 12 articles did not infringe upon the interests of the state, but instead defended the interests of the state," Hai told The AP by telephone.

Hai said the judges tried to stop him and his client from speaking when they went into details of the 12 articles that were used to prosecute Nhat.

Nhat was a reporter at a state-run newspaper before quitting more than three years ago to focus on his blog, "Another Point of View." He said in 2010 that he quit the newspaper "to write about things that I want to write."

The 50-year-old was arrested in May last year, a month after posting an article that called for the resignation of Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, accusing them of being responsible for what he described as the country's "political chaos," slumping economy and their failure to curb rampant corruption.

Human Rights Watch says the number of people sentenced in political trials in Vietnam has increased every year since 2010 and at least 63 people were imprisoned for peaceful political expression last year.

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