TWO activists have been handed lengthy prison sentences in Vietnam as communist authorities step up their crackdown on dissent.

The pair were jailed for nine years and seven years respectively after separate trials for attempting to overthrow the government and spreading anti-state propaganda.

Nguyen Viet Dung, 32, was convicted by a court in Nghe An province of spreading anti-state propaganda by posting on Facebook and his blog which the judges say defamed the country’s leaders.

His lawyer, Ngo Anh Tuan, said he was also found guilty of posting a video of him flying the flag of the former US-backed South Vietnam.

The court also ordered Dung to serve five years of house arrest after completing his sentence.

Dung confessed his crimes during the proceedings, the lawyer said, adding that the court rejected his argument for lesser sentences.

Meanwhile, the People’s Court in neighbouring Ha Tinh province convicted Tran Thi Xuan, 42, of attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced her to nine years in prison and five years of house arrest.