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US calls for release of bloggers, land activist in Vietnam

Associated Press Associated Press 26/09/2016

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is calling for Vietnam to release a land rights activist and two bloggers, and to allow all individuals to express their political views without fear of retribution.

The State Department on Monday criticized the sentencing last week of Can Thi Theu, who received 20-months in jail for causing public disorder after she led protests earlier this year outside government offices against land seizures.

Also last week, a court upheld sentences of five years and three years against bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, who were accused of anti-state writings.

Department spokesman Mark Toner said Vietnam was using criminal provisions to penalize individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The U.S. has sought closer ties with Vietnam's communist government despite persistent concerns over its rights record.

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