Vietnam puts 14 activists on trial

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Le Quoc Quan, a well-known dissident lawyer, works at his office in Hanoi, Vietnam in this September 28, 2012 file photo. Vietnamese police have detained Quan, escalating a crackdown on those who speak out against the country’s one-party, authoritarian rule. AP

HANOI, Vietnam—A court in central Vietnam has put on trial 14 activists accused of allegedly carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the communist government amid an intensifying crackdown on dissent.

Defense lawyer Tran Thu Nam says the trial opened in the central province of Nghe An on Tuesday amid tight security.

Nam said the defendants, 12 of them Catholics, were accused of participating in Viet Tan or Vietnam Reform Party, in exile in the United States to carry out “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.” Four of them could face the death penalty if convicted.

Vietnam labels Viet Tan, a nonviolent pro-democracy group, as a terrorist organization.

The verdicts are expected Wednesday.

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