Vietnam rejects activist's appeal against jailing for 'anti-state' videos

HANOI (Reuters) - A Vietnamese court on Tuesday upheld a five-year prison term for a prominent social commentator convicted of making propaganda videos against the tightly-controlled state, his lawyer said.

The Hanoi People's High Court rejected the appeals by Le Van Dung, 52, to a March ruling centred on online videos found to have offended "the honour and prestige" of the ruling Communist Party and state leaders.

Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam's Communist Party retains media censorship and tolerates little criticism.

Dung, who goes by "Le Dung Vova", regularly used social media platforms to comment on Vietnam's social and political issues and demand reforms, according to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group following the case.

"He admitted at the appeals trial that he had made those videos, but argued that he didn't mean to conduct propaganda against the state," his lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, said.

Calls to the court for comment went unanswered on Tuesday.

The court is expected to hear appeals from at least three other activists later this month jailed for similar charges, according to the lawyer.

They include dissident writer Pham Doan Trang, who is serving a nine-year sentence in Vietnam and was granted a prize for courage by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by John Geddie and Mark Heinrich)

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