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Vietnam 26 September 2006

Authorities confirm arrest of two cyber-dissidents

According to Agence France Presse, the Vietnamese authorities confirmed on 21 September that they have arrested cyber-dissidents Le Nguyen Sang and Huynh Nguyen Dao for distributing pamphlets and posting political documents online. These activities were “contrary to the interests of the Vietnamese state and could be interpreted as terrorism,” the authorities said.

Nguyen Hoang Long is the pseudonym used by Le Nguyen Sang, a 48-year-old doctor, while Huynh Viet Lang is the pseudonym of Huynh Nguyen Dao, a 38-year-old journalist.

According to the US-based People’s Democratic Party, an exile organisation that is banned inside Vietnam, the two cyber-dissidents are being held in a detention centre in Ho Chi Minh City. The group claims that four more of its members are also currently detained in Vietnam although the authorities have so far refused to release any information about them.

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Le Nguyen Sang and Huynh Nguyen Dao and urges the authorities to say whether or not they are also holding the four other People’s Democratic Party activists. Two other cyber-dissidents, Nguyen Vu Binh and Truong Quoc Huy, are also still in prison in Vietnam. Reporters Without Borders calls on foreign diplomats to try to promote respect for free expression in Vietnam, which is about to join the World Trade Organisation.

21.09.2006 - US cyber-dissident freed after more than five weeks in custody

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn of the release, on 21 September 2006, of Cong Thanh Do (pen name Nam Tran), but the organisation expressed concern about the plight of two other cyber-dissidents, both Vietnamese nationals, arrested at the same time and about whom there has been no news.

"We hail the work of foreign diplomats, particularly American, which brought about this release,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We nevertheless urge them not to let up in their efforts to obtain the same outcome for four other cyber-dissidents in custody in Vietnam.

“We are also waiting for the Vietnamese authorities to provide information about the arrests of Nguyen Hoang Long and Huynh Viet Lang, which appear to be linked to that of Cong Thanh Do”, the organisation added.

Cong Thanh Do was due to arrive in San Francisco, California, around 4am on 22 September (Paris time).

His wife, who was able to speak briefly to him on the telephone, said he was very weak. “I am extremely relieved but I would like to point out that it was totally unjustified to hold my father in custody,” she said. “The authorities are simply determined to shut him up.”

Cong Thanh Do, a 47-year-old engineer from San José wrote for various foreign based websites. He was arrested on 14 August in Phan Thiet, southern Vietnam. His family said he was accused of having plotted a bomb attack against the US Consulate, a bizarre accusation which did not appear to have any basis in tangible fact. In fact, he was targeted by the authorities because of what he wrote online and for his alleged membership of a banned political organisation in Vietnam, the foreign-based Vietnam People’s Democratic Party.

Sources based outside the country said that two cyber-dissidents with Vietnamese nationality, known only under their pen names Nguyen Hoang Long and Huynh Viet Lang, have reportedly been held since mid-August. The authorities have not yet given out any information about them. Apart from Nguyen Hoang Long and Huynh Viet Lang, two other cyber-dissidents, Nguyen Vu Binh and Truong Quoc Huy, are still behind bars in Vietnam.

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