Given that he stood accused of "abusing democratic freedoms," the 10-month prison sentence handed down to Tran Dung Tien in Hanoi last Wednesday was light. Tien, 78, had openly criticized corruption in Vietnam's Communist Party, but he's no garden-variety dissident. Tien joined the revolt against the French in the 1940s, was a longtime Party member—and for a few years served as the personal bodyguard of Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam frequently jails citizens who call for reform or democracy—and it even has a problem with its Old Guard. "These guys are considered dangerous," says a Western diplomat in...
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