Vietnam activist Hoang Thi Minh Hong gets 3-year prison term for $280,000 tax fraud.
US State Department strongly criticizes Hong’s imprisonment.
Human rights activists denounce the verdict as a “sham.”
The United States State Department has expressed strong disapproval of the incarceration of Hoang Thi Minh Hong, a prominent environmental activist in Vietnam, who has been sentenced to three years in prison on tax fraud charges amounting to approximately $280,000.
Human rights activists have decried the verdict, labeling it a “complete sham.”
The State Department’s spokesperson, Matthew Miller, issued a statement voicing deep concern over Hong’s imprisonment. He also reiterated the United States’ call for Vietnam to release all individuals who are being held unjustly and to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and association.
“NGO leaders like Hoang Thi Minh Hong play a vital role in tackling global challenges, proposing sustainable solutions in the global fight against the climate crisis, and combating wildlife and timber trafficking,” Miller said.
Vietnam’s opaque legal system has faced growing scrutiny from Western observers this year, even as the Southeast Asian nation strengthens its ties with the United States.
In April, during a visit to Hanoi, members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights expressed deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Vietnam.
They called for the release of “political prisoners,” which included leaders of non-governmental organizations, journalists, and environmental activists, as reported by Reuters.
The court’s recent verdict also comes shortly after US President Joe Biden’s inaugural state visit to Vietnam, during which he elevated diplomatic relations between the two countries.
This move holds significant importance given the complex history between Washington and Hanoi.
“Vietnam and the United States are critical partners at what I would argue is a very critical time,” Biden said at the time, referencing climate change. “I’m not saying that to be polite. I’m saying it because I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
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