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Report: Three women jailed for 'anti-state' flags in Vietnam

Vietnam has sentenced three women to prison over violating "national security," official Thanh Nien newspaper reported. The defendants waved flags of former US-backed South Vietnam in front of the US consulate.

A Vietnamese court sentenced one of the women to four years in jail and handed out three-year prison terms to the other two, the newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The trio, all in their late fifties, reportedly protested in front of the US General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) in 2014. The women were convicted for chanting anti-state slogans and waving flags of South Vietnam, the US-backed regime which was defeated after

decades of war

in 1975.

During recent years, however,

military tensions with China

prompted Hanoi to seek closer ties with the US.

On Wednesday, the Ho Chi Minh judge issued a verdict describing the defendants' actions as "very serious, infringing on national security, distorting, instigating, causing suspicion and mistrust of the people in the (Communist) Party and state."

Deutschland Südvietnam Flagge in Berlin

South Vietnam lost the war with communist forces in 1975

The women were also sentenced to two years of house arrest after leaving jail, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

Actions like the 2014 protest are very rare in Vietnam, with the UN, the US, and international activists accusing Hanoi of cracking down on dissent.

Last week, the authorities sentenced the prominent Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh to five years in prison for publicizing anti-government articles on his popular news site.

Private media is banned in Vietnam and all newspapers and television channels are run by the state.

dj/kms (AFP, AP)

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