Nguyen Vu Binh, who begins his fourth year in prison on 25 September 2005, is still refusing to cave in to pressure from his jailers by writing a “self-criticism” as demanded by the authorities.
"Vietnam has recently brought out a White Paper on human rights in which it promises to observe freedom of expression and to promote the free use of the Internet,” said Reporters Without Borders.
“Releasing Nguyen Vu Binh, imprisoned for three years for posting articles on the Net, would show that these statements are not simply window-dressing,” the organisation added.
The cyberdissident is being held in a cramped cell with common-law prisoners. He refuses to write a “self-criticism” - in which he would acknowledge his guilt and swear allegiance to the Vietnamese communist party.
Nguyen, who formerly worked for an official communist party publication, Tap Chi Cong San (The Communist Reviews), was arrested on 25 September 2002 and sentenced, on 31 December 2003, to seven years in prison and three years house arrest.
He was accused of being in contact with “subversive dissidents” such as Le Chi Quang and Pham Hong Son. He was said to have received 4.5 million Vietnamese dongs (about 230 euros) from “a foreign-based reactionary organisation”. The authorities also accused him of involvement in an organisation fighting corruption, and cited his application, made to the Vietnamese authorities in 2000, to set up a liberal democratic party.
He was also convicted of posting articles of a “reactionary character” on the Internet, including an essay entitled “Reflection on the Sino-Vietnamese border agreements, in which he criticised a treaty concluded between China and Vietnam in 1999.
In its White Paper on the “achievement of the protection and promotion of human rights”, Vietnam says it respects and protects “the right to free speech, freedom of the press and that of people’s right to information.” The briefing paper says that there are more than 200 “electronic newspapers” published in the country and that the “Vietnamese government encourages and facilitates the use and exploitation of news and information on the Internet by its inhabitants.”