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Vietnam 25 September 2003

Call for release of cyber-dissident held for a year without trial

Reporters Without Borders called today on Vietnamese justice minister Uong Chu Luu to say why jailed journalist and cyber-dissident Nguyen Vu Binh has still not been tried a year after being arrested and to say what he is accused of and what his conditions of detention are.

Binh was arrested in Hanoi on 25 September last year, a month after posting on the Internet an article he wrote criticising border agreements signed with China in 1999.

"It is inhuman to keep him in jail without trial," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, Robert Ménard, "and it shows the scant respect the Vietnamese authorities have for human rights." He called for him to be allowed visits from his wife and two children.

Binh wrote for the magazine section of the Communist Party newspaper Tap Chi Cong San . Since 2001 he has posted many articles on the Internet calling for political and economic reforms.

The Vietnamese government tightened its control of Internet access from inside the country on 26 May this year by banning users from receiving or putting out "anti-government" material and setting up a special body to monitor it and prosecute violators.

The authorities are currently blocking access to nearly 2,000 websites and six people are in prison for posting allegedly subversive material online. They are Tran Khue, Nguyen Vu Binh, Pham Hong Son, Nguyen Khac Toan, Le Chi Quang and Nguyen Dan Que.

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