An outspoken activist in Vietnam was jailed for 20 years yesterday for allegedly calling for an election boycott and inciting environmental protests in the one-party state that has little tolerance for dissent.
The communist country is notorious for jailing its critics but the harsh sentence was the heaviest in years as a hardline administration in charge since 2016 intensifies its crackdown against activists.
Le Dinh Luong was convicted for "attempting to overthrow the state" in a half-day trial against the 52-year-old who appeared gaunt and grey-haired in court in central Nghe An province.
The swift trial was conducted with none of his witnesses allowed to testify, which the court mysteriously blamed on "health reasons", his lawyer Ha Huy Son told AFP.
"I asked for a cancellation because witnesses were not allowed to speak, but they were not brought to court," Son said, confirming the 20-year jail term.
A prominent activist in the region, Luong was accused of posting clips online inciting people to join months-long protests following a toxic leak by a Taiwanese steel firm that caused mass fish deaths in 2016.
Luong was also blamed for calling for an election boycott that year, according to state media.