HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — U.N. human rights experts on Friday said the trial of a prominent Vietnamese blogger did not meet international standards and appeared to be aimed at intimidating environmental activists.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as "Mother Mushroom," was sentenced in a one-day trial Thursday to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of defaming the Communist government in Facebook posts and in interviews with foreign media.
Quynh, 37, has written about human rights, civilian deaths in police custody and the release of toxic chemicals by a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in April 2016 that killed thousands of fish in one of Vietnam's worst environmental disasters.
"This was little short of a show trial, designed to intimidate other environmental activists," the U.N. human rights experts said in a statement released in Geneva. "The trial did not meet international standards. She has been denied her fundamental right to due process."
They said they feared that Vietnam's government is increasingly targeting bloggers and organizers of peaceful protests to prevent wider civic and environmental activism.
Quynh "has done no more than promote human rights through social media, and protect the environment from harm. In no country, including Vietnam, should this be regarded as a crime," the experts said.
Quynh's sentencing also drew strong rebukes from several human rights groups and the U.S. State Department.
Responding to the calls for Quynh's release, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said the trial was held in accordance with Vietnamese law.
"Like other countries in the world, in Vietnam, all law-violating acts must be strictly dealt with in accordance with the regulations of Vietnamese law," Hang said in news briefing Thursday.
Last month, a U.N. working group on arbitrary detention found that Quynh's detention was arbitrary and urged her release.
The U.N. experts included special rapporteurs on human rights related to the environment, freedom of opinion and expression, the situation of human rights defenders, hazardous wastes, and arbitrary detention.