HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — The United States has expressed alarm over prison terms handed down against three Vietnamese democracy activists for obstructing traffic.

Human rights groups have described the charges used to convict Bui Thi Minh Hang, Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh to 3 years, 2 years and 2 1/2 years respectively on Tuesday as “bogus.”

The three were arrested earlier this year as they rode motorbikes to visit a former political prisoner in Dong Thap province.

The US Embassy late Tuesday said “the use of public disorder laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is alarming.”

Washington is seeking closer ties with Vietnam, part of a push to counter Chinese influence in Asia, but the country’s human rights record complicates that.

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