Vietnam Upholds Pastor’s 11-Year Jail Term
Hanoi. An appeal court in central Vietnam on Tuesday upheld an evangelical pastor’s 11-year jail term for undermining national unity through his links with “reactionary organizations,” state media said.
Nguyen Cong Chinh, 43, lured ethnic minority people in the sensitive Central Highlands area of communist Vietnam to do “wrongful things,” according to the VNExpress news site.
Chinh, who was accused of sending documents to anti-government organizations in Vietnam, was convicted at a one-day trial in March.
A court in central Danang city rejected his appeal on Tuesday.
Chinh has been in custody since April 2011, when he was arrested in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.
Rights group say dozens of peaceful political activists have been sentenced to long prison terms since Vietnam, a one-party state, launched a crackdown on free expression in late 2009.
Vietnam is a majority Buddhist nation of about 86 million, where the government says it always respects the freedom of belief and religion.
But religious activity remains under state control and some groups have complained of ill-treatment.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, Chinh’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Vietnam & America, a Protestant group that is not officially recognized by Hanoi, has suffered government harassment and intimidation in the past.