updated 2/11/2010 11:54:03 AM ET 2010-02-11T16:54:03

Two pioneering Web sites that stretched the limits of free expression in Vietnam say they have been hacked and shut down, just months after the communist government blocked the social networking site Facebook.

Both sites had been critical of Vietnam's policies toward China. But both sites were generally restrained in tone, and neither had called for an end to Vietnam's single-party system.

The sites' problems arose in the midst of Vietnam's latest crackdown on dissent, which has seen 16 democracy activists jailed in just over three months.

The government has not responded to questions about the Web sites submitted earlier this week by The Associated Press.

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