Vietnam Sentences Dissident Writer 

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A dissident Vietnamese writer who received an international human rights award for courage was sentenced Thursday to nine months in prison for disturbing the public order, a court official said.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, 47, a novelist and journalist, was convicted of “causing public disorder” and freed because of her previously served jail time, the court official said, declining to provide details.

Foreign reporters were denied access to the one-day trial at the Hanoi People’s Court.

Thuy was honored last year by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which gave her one of its annual Hellman/Hammett awards, granted to dissident writers for showing “courage in the face of political persecution.”

Authorities previously said Thuy was a member of the 8406 bloc, a pro-democracy group that circulated human rights petitions in Vietnam in 2006. They also accused her of organizing an independent trade union and supporting a dissident human rights commission.

She was originally charged with violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, which broadly prohibits distributing information harmful to the state.

It was unclear why the court changed the charge. The court official, who declined to give his name, would not elaborate.

Human Rights Watch said Thuy has written numerous novels and political essays and was an editor of a dissident bulletin, Fatherland, circulated on the Internet.

She was arrested in April 2007 and had been held in a Hanoi jail since then.

On Tuesday, a court in southern Ho Chi Minh City sentenced two dissidents, Truong Quoc Huy and Hang Tan Phat, to six years in prison for allegedly circulating pamphlets in 2005 calling for the ruling Communist Party to be overthrown.

Vietnam’s government, which does not tolerate challenges to its one-party rule, has been cracking down on dissidents.

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