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As a blogger, a rather bland press release from the EU (Statement by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the sentencing of bloggers in Vietnam) caught my attention today.

Ashton remarks that “The sentences (4-12 years in prison!) in this case appear to be particularly severe. While expressing goodwill and her appreciation of the increasingly positive EU-Vietnam partnership, the High Representative calls on Vietnam to respect its international obligations and to release the convicted bloggers immediately.”

That’s diplomat-speak for “keep this up and I cancel our trade agreements”

I wondered what these bloggers had done… According to the AP/Washington Post’s coverage not much than what we do here at the Gates:

Three bloggers who wrote about human rights abuses, corruption and foreign policy

I realise there is an inherent difference, for which I am truly grateful, between living in Israel (which for all its flaws is a democracy) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, where civil rights are “party principles” and not realities.

Amnesty International has a campaign for their release here. And for historic reasons, the French Government also put out a statement condemning the conviction.

As the WashPost article continues:

The defendants, two men and one woman, are founding members of the “Free Journalists’ Club,” a group of citizen journalists who posted their work on the Internet. They were found guilty of spreading “propaganda against the state.

Well, MORE POWER TO THEM! is all I have to say. That, and that international pressure will somehow speed up their release.