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Vietnam 21 June 2007

President Bush asked to raise issue of detained cyber-dissidents with his Vietnamese counterpart

Reporters Without Borders has written to US President George W. Bush asking him to intercede on behalf of the nine cyber-dissidents and journalists in prison in Vietnam when he meets with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet on 22 June. "It is important that President Triet’s government should keep its promises to respect human rights," the organisation said.

"Dear Mr. President,

Reporters Without Borders would like to ask you to intercede on behalf of the nine cyber-dissidents and journalists in prison in Vietnam when you meet with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

We have observed that, after a period of relative tolerance by the authorities towards political dissidents, when Vietnam was a candidate to join the World Trade Organisation, this country is nowadays increasingly cracking down on free expression. The government pursued a clever diplomatic strategy, promising progress on human rights to ingratiate itself with the international community. But now that it has gained admission to the WTO, it has become clear that these promises were just for show.

The government is now going all-out after pro-democracy activists and those who express their disaccord with the single party line on the Internet, although it continues every now and again to amnesty one or two dissidents. We hailed the release of cyber-dissident Nguyen Vu Binh on 9 June, for example, but one should not forget that he spent nearly five years in jail just for urging political reforms in Vietnam. And a month earlier, six other cyber-dissidents received jail sentences in the biggest crackdown on government opponents since 2002.

The nine cyber-dissidents and journalists currently in prison are Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, Le Thi Cong Nham, Nguyen Van Dai, Tran Quoc Hien, Truong Quoc Huy, Le Nguyen Sang (aka as Nguyen Hoang Long), Huynh Nguyen Dao (aka Huynh Viet Lang), Nguyen Bac Truyen and Father Nguyen Van Ly."

In this country
20 February - Vietnam
Government frees cyber-dissident while keeping online activities under strict control
19 January - Vietnam
Government announces early release of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien
5 December - Vietnam
Leading blogger’s conviction upheld on appeal
15 October - Vietnam
Newspaper reporter’s two-year sentence deals severe blow to press freedom
10 September - Vietnam
Blogger gets two and a half years in prison after “unfair and unfounded” conviction on tax fraud charge

in the annual report
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