Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the call by 12 Nobel Prize winners for the release of Vietnamese cyber-dissident Nguyen Dan Que.
They wrote to Vietnamese Communist Party secretary-general Nong Duc Manh on 22 September expressing concern about Que’s health and asking that he be given proper medical treatment and allowed visits from his family. The 12 who appealed were:
Kenneth J. Arrow (Economics1972), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (Physics 1997), Robert F. Curl Jr. (Chemistry 1996), Milton Friedman (Economics 1976), François Jacob (Physiology and Medicine 1965), Sir Harold W. Kroto (Chemistry 1996), Yuan T. Lee (Chemistry 1986), Douglas D. Osheroff (Physics 1996), John C. Polanyi (Chemistry 1986), Joseph Rotblat (Peace 1995), Charles H. Townes (Physics 1964), Torsten N. Wiesel (Physiology and Medicine 1981).
Dissident editor Nguyen Dan Que arrested
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) protested strongly today against the new arrest of 61-year-old Vietnamese dissident editor Nguyen Dan Que and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
"He has already spent nearly 20 years in prison," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Vietnamese prime minister Phan Van Khai. "If he is not released, it will be a very serious blow to freedom of expression in Vietnam. All this courageous man has done is peacefully voice his opinions."
Dr Que, editor of the underground magazine Tuong Lai (The Future) and author of many articles on press freedom, was arrested at his home in Ho Chi Minh City on 17 March and taken to the city prison. A few hours later, police returned to the house and seized his computer, mobile phone and many personal papers. Reporters Without Borders demanded that they be returned to him.
His arrest is thought to be linked with a statement he issued criticising the lack of press freedom in the country. He was responding to remarks made by a foreign ministry spokesman on 12 March that freedom of information was guaranteed.
Since he was last freed from prison in 1998, he has been under close surveillance, but he still managed to start up Tuong Lai in 2000 and distribute it in Vietnam and abroad. The magazine campaigns for freedom of expression and has attacked the imprisonment of those who defend political and religious freedoms. Most of its articles are also posted on the Internet.
Que, who studied medicine at Saigon University, was arrested in 1978 and held without trial for 10 years. He was arrested again in 1990 after campaigning for democracy and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, including 20 at hard labour.
He was freed in an amnesty in 1998, but was still frequently interrogated and his home repeatedly searched. He was also publicly and regularly vilified by the Ho Chi Minh City state security department.