A Vietnamese court sentenced a U.S.-trained lawyer and prominent dissident to 30 months in jail Wednesday on tax evasion charges that many observers view as politically motivated, the Associated Press reports.
Le Quoc Quan, who was also detained by Vietnamese police for three months in 2007 following his return from a U.S.-funded fellowship in Washington, D.C., has maintained a popular blog in the country to raise awareness about the government’s alleged human rights abuses.
“I have long been denouncing and fighting against corruption, bureaucracy and the stagnation that is doing harm to this country … I’m the victim of political acts,” Quan said after the sentence was handed down.
Quan carried on speaking, but the audio feed into a side-room where a small number of reporters and diplomats were allowed to listen to proceedings was then cut off.
Presiding Judge Le Thi Hop said Quan was found guilty of evading corporate income tax of $30,000 (£18,000) in relation to a consultancy he had headed. Quan was arrested last December in Hanoi.
Trials in Vietnam do not meet international standards for fairness, according to human rights groups.
Vietnam shifted to a more market-oriented economy in the late 1980s but retains stringent controls on freedom of speech, political expression, and the media.