A Vietnamese court has sentenced eight people to long prison terms for attempting to establish a separate state for their ethnic minority. The case brings the number of people convicted of national security crimes to 46 so far this year.

The Vietnam News Agency reported Wednesday that eight villagers aged 32 to 73 were convicted of "undermining national unity policy." The People's Court in Gia Lai province sentenced them to between three to 11 years in prison at the one-day trial Tuesday.

Court officials declined to comment.

The villagers were convicted of contacting an exile group in the United States to help recruit more members for their own religion and establish a separate state for ethnic minority people in four Central Highland provinces.