October 5, 2016 – A Ho Chi Minh City court slashed the sentence of a convicted blogger whose family helped the communist regime during the Vietnam War, his lawyer said today after a rare reprieve for a dissident in the authoritarian country.
Nguyen Dinh Ngoc is one of scores of activists and bloggers behind bars in Vietnam, which has one of the worst press freedom rankings in the world.
The 50-year-old, known by his pen name Nguyen Ngoc Gia, had his sentence reduced from four years to three, his lawyer Ha Huy Son told InsiderTimes.
“The decision was based on humanitarian reasons,” Son said after the two-hour trial.
Ngoc’s mother sheltered Northern troops during the Vietnam War against the US-backed South, and his soldier sister was jailed by the Americans during the conflict that ended in 1975.
Several of his family members also died in the war and his father was a life-long member of the Communist Party.
“The family rendered good services to the regime,” Son said.
Ngoc was arrested in December 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City and in March this year was convicted of “propaganda against the communist state”, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The court Wednesday also upheld a three-year probation period for Ngoc.
Private media in the one-party state is banned and all television and newspapers are government-run, but bloggers and activists have taken to social media in recent years to voice anti-government views.
The country ranks 175 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ latest press freedom index.
Wednesday’s ruling follows the failed appeal of anti-government blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, known as Anh Ba Sam, whose five-year sentence for disseminating anti-government articles was upheld last month in Hanoi.