Vietnam has denied entry to two prominent rights campaigners invited to attend this week's World Economic Forum in Hanoi, as the one-party communist state continues its hard line on critics of its dismal rights record.
Vietnam did not respond to AFP's request for comment.
The communist country routinely jails activist, lawyers and bloggers, but a tough new administration in power since 2016 has been accused of upping the ante on its critics.
Around 40 activists have been convicted so far this year on charges ranging from acting against the state to disturbing public order, including three American citizens, according to an AFP tally.
Amnesty says that as of April this year there were 97 known activists behind bars.
Yet Vietnam is trying to boost its diplomatic profile, hosting a slew of dignitaries and summits -- including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting last year attended by US President Donald Trump.
But with trade on the table, critics say its allies -- including Trump's administration -- are not pressuring Vietnam's leadership enough to protect human rights and free expression.
A spokeswoman for WEF confirmed that Stothard and Pimple had both been denied entry to the meeting, but that their invitations to the forum remained in place.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- under fire overseas for her reaction to the Rohingya crisis -- and South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha are among the guests.
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