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Vietnam 2 October 2003

Rumours of Tran Khue’s death unfounded

Literature teacher Tran Khue is reportedly still in prison in Ho Chi Minh City awaiting trial for undisclosed offences. Well-known historian Pham Que Duong, arrested last 28 December soon after talking to Tran, is also in prison awaiting trial at an unknown date.


Serious concern about plight of jailed cyber-dissidents

Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediate release of jailed cyber-dissident Le Chi Quang, who is reportedly seriously ill with chronic kidney disease, and for government clarification of rumours that another, the elderly Tran Khue, has died.

"Their cases show political prisoners do not get even minimum medical care in Vietnamese jails," said the organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard. "We are very worried about the plight of many of them."

Tran Khue, a 67-year-old literature teacher and founder of an anti-corruption group, was arrested on 29 December 2002 and has been held without trial for posting criticism of the government on the Internet. Several sources say he may have died, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

Le Chi Quang, 33, was arrested in a Hanoi cybercafé on 21 February 2002 by an undercover policeman for posting supposedly "dangerous information" on the Internet. He was given a four-year sentence last November. His health is said to be deteriorating rapidly because of his poor conditions of detention, including bad food and lack of medical care. A group of 69 Vietnamese-born doctors called on the government last November to release him on medical grounds.

The Vietnamese government is tightening its control of Internet access inside the country and state censorship bodies were empowered on 26 May this year to clamp down hard by banning Internet users receiving or putting out "anti-government" material. The authorities are currently blocking access to nearly 2,000 websites and five people are in prison for posting allegedly subversive material online.

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
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