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protesters at trial March 23 2016

Supporters hold posters including those that read ‘Freedom for Basam Nguyen Huu Vinh’ and ‘Nguyen Huu Vinh is innocent’ during a protest held in front of the People’s Court in Hanoi. Photograph: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images

AP – March 23, 2016: Former police officer faces seven years in prison after being accused of writing stories that ‘distorted the policies’ of the Communist Party

The trial of a  prominent Vietnamese blogger accused of anti-government posts has started amid protests in Hanoi.

Nguyen Huu Vinh, a former police officer and son of a late government minister, and his assistant, Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, are accused of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state, an offence punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Vinh, 59, and Thuy, 35, went on trial on Wednesday in Vietnam’s capital. They have been in jail since they were arrested in May 2014.

Vinh, better known as Anh Ba Sam, was a police officer with the ministry of public security in Hanoi. He quit in 1999 and set up a private investigation firm. His father was a government minister and Vietnam’s ambassador to the former Soviet Union. Read More