Reporters Without Borders has launched a solemn appeal to Vietnam’s Public Security Minister, Lieutenant General Le Minh Huong, calling for the release of Nguyen Vu Binh, arrested on 25 September for the second time in three months. "We appeal to the authorities to show clemency with regard to Nguyen Vu Binh, and to dispel any doubts as to the conditions under which he is being detained," stated the organisation’s Secretary-General, Robert Ménard. He added that "the pressures of all kinds that are being put on Internet users who peacefully express their opinions cannot be tolerated".
Police entered Mr Nguyen’s home during the evening of 25 September in order to carry out a search, and confiscated some of his personal belongings. The journalist was arrested and is most probably being detained in prison B 14, in the district of Thanh Tri, about ten kilometres from Hanoï.
A contributor to Tap Chi Cong San (the Communist newspaper magazine), Mr Nguyen had been dismissed in January 2001 because of his attempts to found an independent political party. Since then he has written articles criticising the Vietnamese government’s policy. Mr Nguyen was briefly questioned by police on 19 July, after sending a written statement to participants at an American human rights conference in Washington DC. Although he was released the following day, he was immediately put, and has remained until today, under house arrest and close surveillance by police, to whom he had to report daily. In August, he joined twenty other writers and dissidents in signing a petition addressed to the Vietnamese government, calling for legal reforms and for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency. The authorities have made no official declaration concerning the reasons for Mr Nguyen’s arrest, but it could be linked to the online publication last month of one of his critical essays, entitled "Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement". A sensitive issue, this border treaty signed in December 1999 has already been the subject of frequent criticism by Vietnamese dissidents. Reporters Without Borders reminds readers that Le Chi Quang, a computer science lecturer and graduate of the law faculty, has been incarcerated in Hanoi, since 21 February, also for having criticised this same treaty in an Internet publication.
Three cyber-dissidents are currently in prison in Vietnam. Reporters Without Borders wishes to underline that Dr Pham Hong Son, the date of whose release is still unknown, was arrested for having translated and published on the Internet an article entitled "What is democracy?", taken from the web site of the United States’ embassy in Vietnam. As for Tran Khue, he is still reported to be under house arrest.