Newly baptized Catholics hold candles at a church in Hoa Binh, Vietnam, Jan. 21. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, baptized 172 people as part of his Jan. 19-25 visit to Vietnam. (CNS photo/Kham, Reuters)

HA TINH, Vietnam – A court in central Vietnam has jailed a Catholic activist after convicting her of subverting the communist state, ucanews.com  reported.

It quoted an April 13 report in a state-run newspaper as saying the People’s Court in Ha Tinh province sentenced Teresa Tran Thi Xuan to nine years in prison April 12 for “attempting to overthrow the people’s government.”

Xuan, 42, also faces another five years under house arrest after finishing what observers called a very harsh sentence.

The newspaper said Xuan shared articles and video clips on social media from “reactionary groups” to undermine the government.

She also was accused of organizing protests at the local government headquarters against the Taiwanese steel firm Formosa, which was responsible for a massive toxic waste spill in the province. During the protests, in April 2017, she incited people to damage public property and cause social disorder, the court said.

Xuan comes from Loc Ha, a local district badly affected by the toxic spill.

The court was told the activist was a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, a domestic civil society organization that the government sees as a reactionary group trying to overthrow the communist state.

Security was tight outside the courthouse with a strong police presence, witnesses said.

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