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Vietnam 19 January 2009

Government announces early release of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien

The Vietnamese government released journalist Nguyen Viet Chien on 17 January under a New Year amnesty. He has returned home and has been reunited with his family.


The Vietnamese government has announced the imminent early release of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien of the daily Thanh Nien, who was sentenced to two years in prison on 15 October 2008 for “abusing democratic freedom to damage state interests”, after he investigated a major corruption scandal in 2006.

Public security vice-minister Le The Tiem announced that he would be released on 17 January along with 15,140 other prisoners, as part of an amnesty to mark the Vietnamese New Year, which is based on the lunar calendar.

“This early release is obviously a good thing in itself, but it will not make us forget that this journalist should never have gone to prison in the first place”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “This case now being closed, it is time for the government to introduce reforms that will prevent this kind of scandal happening again,” it added.

Tiem described Nguyen Viet Chien’s case as “special”. “He is being released during this presidential amnesty because of the penitence he showed while serving his sentence,” he said.

“Our family is very happy”, Chien’s son, Nguyen Tuan, told the AFP news agency. “It is a huge joy for us after a year of trouble. This has come at a good time because my father is not in good health. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who supported him during this difficult year”.

Among those to be released as part of the amnesty are 36 foreigners: 19 Chinese, 5 Taiwanese, 4 Cambodians, 3 Malaysians, one Briton, one Frenchman, one South Korean, one Laotian and one Sri Lankan.

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