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Vietnam 17 August 2007

Cyber-dissident’s prison sentence cut from five years to four on appeal

Reporters Without Borders notes that a Ho Chi Minh City court reduced cyber-dissident Le Nguyen Sang’s five-year prison sentence to four years on appeal yesterday.

“This decision shows that the Vietnamese judicial authorities recognise that their sentences are disproportionate,” the press freedom organisation said. “We hope they continue on this course and that they end up reviewing all of the draconian sentences being served by the nine cyber-dissidents and journalists currently held in Vietnam.”

The four-year sentence imposed on journalist Huynh Nguyen Dao on 10 May and the three-year sentence imposed on businessman Nguyen Bac Truyen the same day have also been reduced to three years and two and a half years respectively.

16.08.07 - Jailed cyber-dissident’s appeal to be heard tomorrow

Reporters Without Borders urges the Ho Chi Minh City judicial authorities to quash cyber-dissident Le Nguyen Sang’s five-year prison sentence when they consider his appeal tomorrow. “After the summary trial in which he was convicted of propaganda against the regime on 10 May, we hope the court will reverse its outcome and give Sang a fair hearing.”

A doctor also known as Nguyen Hoang Long, Sang was arrested along with journalist Huynh Nguyen Dao and businessman Nguyen Bac Truyen in August 2006 on charges of disseminating information hostile to the government. He is currently held in section 4 of Phan Dang Luu prison, in Ho Chi Minh City.

10.05.07 - Three convicted and three pending trial in black week for cyber-dissidents

Reporters Without Borders condemned the sentences of three, four and five years in prison that were imposed by a Ho Chi Minh City court today in a trial lasting just four hours on cyber-dissidents Huynh Nguyen Dao, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Le Nguyen Sang, respectively, for propaganda against the communist regime.

After a let-up while Vietnam negotiated its admission to the World Trade Organisation, the vice is again tightening on dissidents in the run-up to the next session of the People’s National Assembly, the press freedom organisation said. Now that international pressure has eased, the government is trying to snuff out Vietnam’s fragile pro-democracy movement.

Dao, a journalist, Truyen, a businessman and Sang, a doctor, were arrested in August 2006 and charged with using the Internet to spread anti-government propaganda. They acknowledged in court to being members of the People’s Democratic Party and to have campaigned for political pluralism in Vietnam.

The judge described their activities as “dangerous for society”and said they had “weakened the regime’s authority.” Prosecutors said they downloaded and distributed material originating from a US citizen of Vietnamese origin, Cong Thanh Do, who was arrested in Vietnam and then expelled in August 2006.

Two other dissidents, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, are to be tried on charges of anti-government propaganda before a Hanoi court tomorrow. They are members of Bloc 8406, a pro-democracy group.

Reporters Without Borders supports the open letter signed by former Czech dissident Vaclav Havel and a dozen other leading figures calling for their release and the release of Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest who was arrested in March and convicted of propaganda against the government.

Another Bloc 8406 member, Tran Quoc Hien, who is the spokesman of the United Workers-Farmers Organization (UWFO), is to appear in court on 15 May on charges of “sabotaging” national security, as well as defaming the state and anti-government propaganda under article 88 of the criminal code.

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