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Vietnam 29 June 2006

Open letter to new president about two imprisoned cyber-dissidents

Reporters Without Borders wrote today to Nguyen Minh Triet, who has just taken over from Tran Duc Luong as Vietnam’s president, asking him to pardon Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Vu Binh, two cyber-dissidents who are serving prison sentences of five and seven years respectively.

The letter drew attention to Pham Hong Son’s state of health, which is particularly worrying. He has been held since 27 March 2002.

"Dear Mr. President,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to take the opportunity of your appointment as President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to ask you to pardon Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Vu Binh, two prisoners of conscience whose only crime was to express their opinions on the Internet.

We are particularly concerned about the state of health of Pham Hong Son, who was arrested on 27 March 2002. A physician and marketing executive with a pharmaceutical company, he was sentenced on appeal on 26 August 2003 to five years in prison and three years of house arrest. He has an inguinal hernia that could prove fatal if it is not operated on. He has also had chest pains and has been spitting up blood - the symptoms of tuberculosis - since July 2005 but he is not receiving appropriate treatment.

Arrested on 25 September 2002, Nguyen Vu Binh was sentenced on 31 December 2003 to seven years in prison and three years of house arrest. A former journalist with an official publication of the Communist Party of Vietnam, he was accused of having relations with “subversive dissidents” such as Pham Hong Son and of posting articles on the Internet which, according to the authorities of your country, were of a “reactionary nature.”

We ask you to re-examine the cases of these two prisoners, whose detention has gone on for too long. We also invite you to comply with the undertakings your country gave in its “white paper on human rights” in 2005, especially as regards free expression and the unrestricted use of the Internet. Concrete progress in this area would undoubtedly be hailed by the entire international community at a time when Vietnam is preparing to join the World Trade Organisation.

I trust you will give these requests your careful consideration."

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard, Secretary-General

Pham Hong Son is sponsored by SVM Mac (France), Liberation.fr (France), Nathalie Griesbeck (a French member of the European Parliament), the House of the Press in Mons (Belgium), the House of the Press in Charleroi (Belgium), TéléPro magazine (Belgium), Vlan-Liège (Belgium), El Siglo (Spain), Periodistas-es.org (Spain) and The Concordian (Canada).


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