Maria Tran Thi Nga protests against the arrest of blogger “Mother Mushroom” in October 2016 (Human Rights Watch)
Maria Tran Thi Nga protests against the arrest of blogger “Mother Mushroom” (Human Rights Watch)

Catholic rights activist and blogger Maria Tran Thi Nga has had her nine-year prison sentence upheld following an appeal hearing at the Supreme Court in the capital city, Hanoi, reports Asia News.

Only three of Nga’s lawyers were able to attend the hearing. Her husband and family members were detained by a massive police deployment outside the courtroom. Some of her supporters were beaten when they tried to record videos of the proceedings, according to Asia News.

Nga was arrested in January 2017 for sharing articles and videos online, highlighting ongoing rights abuses tied to environmental crises and political corruption.

In July she was found guilty of “propaganda against the state”. The conviction was handed down during a one-day trial that Human Rights Watch called “a swift and harsh verdict”. The NGO added at the time that Vietnam has long used “vague” national security laws to punish critics and stifle dissent.

In November 17 NGOs called on Vietnam to release Nga and other prisoners of conscience, including Catholic blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known as ‘Me Nam’ (Mother Mushroom), who in November failed in her attempt to overturn a 10-year prison sentence for writing “anti-state reports”.

Vietnam is 17th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. The 2018 list is published on 10 January.