A court in central Vietnam’s Nghe An province on Monday sentenced a member of a U.S.-based political opposition group to three years in prison for activities aimed at overthrowing the country’s one-party communist government, state media reports said.
Tran Huu Duc, born in 1964 and a resident of Nghe An, was accused by prosecutors of using Facebook to connect with other members of the so-called Provisional Government of Vietnam, headquartered in California, from June 2020 to January 2021.
Arrested on January 21, Duc was charged under Article 109 of Vietnam’s Penal Code with gathering information on Nghe An residents to contact for a referendum on naming a group member, Dao Minh Quan, as president of Vietnam.
Duc was also accused of posting political content online opposed to government policies and of slandering leaders of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, media reports said.
Based in Orange County, California, the Provisional Government of Vietnam was founded in 1991 by former soldiers and refugees loyal to the South Vietnamese government that existed before the country’s takeover by North Vietnam in 1975.
It was designated a terrorist organization by Vietnam authorities in January 2018 after group members were charged with a plot to attack Tan Son Nhat International Airport with petrol bombs ahead of a major holiday the year before.
The group had earlier attempted to explode a bomb in a parking lot for impounded vehicles at the Bien Hoa police station in Dong Nai province, according to state media reports published at the time of the 2017 trial.
The group’s leader, Dang Hoang Thien, was sentenced in December 2017 to 16 years in prison and five years of house arrest, while 14 other members of the group were sentenced to terms ranging from five to 14 years.
A court in the southern province of Binh Phuoc in March sentenced four members of the same family to prison terms ranging from five to 13 years for their involvement in the group. All had been charged with subversion.
In its Freedom in the World 2021 report, Washington D.C.-based Freedom House gave Vietnam an overall score of 19 out of a possible 100, a one-point decrease from last year’s rating. Vietnam scored three out of 40 in political rights, and 16 out of 60 in civil liberties.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.
This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by Radio Free Asia.