Washington: The US has expressed deep concern over Vietnam`s decision to uphold the conviction of a prominent human rights lawyer to 30 months in prison for tax evasion.
A Vietnamese court yesterday upheld the conviction of the US-trained blogger Le Quoc Quan, rejecting his appeal after a half-day trial.
"The use of tax laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is disturbing," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
This conviction appears to be inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and Vietnam`s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and commitments reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she said.
"We call on the government to release prisoners of conscience and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views," Psaki said.
The 43-year-old lawyer, who blogged on a range of sensitive topics including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom, has been in detention since December 2012.
Vietnam - a one-party state - is regularly denounced by rights groups and Western governments for its intolerance of political dissent and systematic violations of freedom of religion.