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A former bodyguard to the founder of Vietnam's Communist Party, Ho Chi Minh, has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for "abusing democratic rights." But that includes time already served since his arrest in January, and Tran Dung Tien's wife told Radio Free Asia (RFA) she expects him home around Nov. 22.

The Hanoi People's Court handed Tien a 10-month sentence on Wednesday after a trial lasting two hours, according to sources who asked not to be named. But Duong Kim Hop, Tien's wife, told RFA's Vietnamese service that authorities had informed her Tien would be freed in about 10 days.

Tien, a bodyguard for the country's national hero and first president in the 1940s, was arrested in January after distributing an open letter to government leaders and the media calling for the release of two democracy activists, former army colonel Pham Que Duong and military historian Tran Khue, according to human rights organizations.

"To remain silent is to be irresponsible, for it amounts to accepting the continuation of crimes and tyranny," Tien, a Communist Party member and veteran of Vietnam's fight against the French and the Americans, said in his letter.

He was also one of 21 prominent dissidents who signed an August 2002 petition protesting government corruption and repression of dissent.

In June 2003, another signer of the petition, Pham Hong Son, was jailed for 13 years after posting a pro-democracy essay on the Internet. His sentence was significantly reduced in August following an international outcry.#####


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