Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was detained in 2016 when she visited a fellow activist in prison - Representational image REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Prominent Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who is accused of spreading propaganda against the state through her Facebook and blog posts, has gone on trial.

Government authorities have alleged that the 38-year-old blogger, who writes under the pen name Me Nam or Mother Mushroom, had published anti-state comments. They have also alleged that Nguyen had tarnished the image of country's leaders through her posts.

The trial of Mother Mushroom came after she was detained in October 2016 when she visited a fellow activist in prison. Police arrested her by pressing charges in accordance with article 88 of the country's penal code.

However, the rights groups have criticised the charges brought against her, calling the trial "outrageous".

"It's outrageous to put Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh on trial simply for using her right to free expression to call for government reform and accountability," Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said.

"The scandal here is not what Mother Mushroom said, but Hanoi's stubborn refusal to repeal draconian, rights-abusing laws that punish peaceful dissent and tarnish Vietnam's international reputation," Robertson said, mentioning Vietnam's one-party communist rule of sending jail to those critical of the government.

If found guilty, Nguyen would face a jail term of up to 12 years, the BBC reported.

Mother Mushroom

Nguyen had initially started her blog to share parenting tips after she had her first child, whom she calls Mushroom. However, she soon shifted towards addressing social and political issues through her writing.

In 2006, she started a blog with the motto, "Who will speak if you don't?" and started writing on several issues, like land confiscation, police brutality, and freedom of expression. She also supported fellow rebels and publicly campaigned for the release of many political prisoners.

Nguyen has also raised her voice for a social and political environment free from fear. Her blog is one of Vietnam's most read rebel blogs, with 5000 friends and thousands of followers.

Blogging, arrests and reactions

Mother Mushroom faced detention in 2009 when she was kept behind bars for more than a week for writing about a bauxite mining project in Vietnam's restive Central Highlands.

However, she was not charged with a crime at that time.

Her latest arrest in 2016 drew the world-wide attention. The US and the European Union demanded her release, saying the detention was against Vietnam's international commitments and domestic laws on human rights.

"This trend threatens to overshadow Vietnam's progress on human rights," US Ambassador Ted Osius had said then, while urging the Communist state to keep its laws and actions consistent with its international obligations and its Constitution.