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Vietnam 19 February 2004

Authorities release three cyber-dissidents who defended freedom of worship

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Nguyen Vu Viet, the nephew of imprisoned priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, was released on 18 February. His brother, Nguyen Truc Cuong, was released a few days before that, while his sister, Nguyen Thi Hoa, was freed at the end of November. The three were arrested in June 2001 for using e-mail, fax and telephone to circulate information abroad about freedom of worship in Vietnam.


28.11.2004

Three cyberdissidents have sentences reduced on appeal

Nguyen Truc Cuong and Nguyen Vu Viet had their jail terms of four and five years both reduced to 32 months on appeal. Their sister had her three-year sentence reduced to four months and six days. Since she had already spent more than two years in jail she was freed immediately after the trial on 28 November.


Three Vietnamese cyberdissidents, who were jailed for defending religious freedom, have had their sentences reduced on appeal

Nguyen Truc Cuong and Nguyen Vu Viet had their jail terms of four and five years both reduced to 32 months on appeal. Their sister had her three-year sentence reduced to four months and six days. Since she had already spent more than two years in jail she was freed immediately after the trial on 28 November.

Foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said the sentences had been reduced because the accused had „genuinely acknowledged their crimes during the appeal.‰

Reporters Without Borders said pressure over the past weeks from the United States and the European Union had been fruitful. It regretted however that the judges had decided to leave two of the cyberdissidents in jail.

(Picture of Nguyen Truc Cuong)


Three cyberdissidents on appeal trial for defending religious freedom

Three Vietnamese cyberdissidents were expected to go an appeal trial on 28 November after a lower court sentenced them to jail terms of three to five years for defending religious freedom, in email, fax and telephone messages abroad.

Reporters Without Borders has urged the appeal judges to exercise leniency towards Nguyen Vu Viet, Nguyen Truc Cuong and Nguyen Thi Hoa. "These three, of whom the youngest is only 27 years old have simply voiced support for religious freedom, which is a right recognised by the Vietnamese State. We expect the judges to announce their release at the appeal, said Robert Ménard, secretary-general of the international press freedom organisation. We note that cyberpolice operate as much surveillance over religious expression as political dissent. We condemn these Orwellian practices by the Vietnamese regime," he added.

Nguyen Vu Viet, 27, Nguyn Truc Cuong, 36, and their sister Nguyen Thi Hoa, 44, are the nephews and niece of an imprisoned Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, who was arrested in June 2001. They are accused of "taking advantage of democratic freedoms and rights to damage the interests of the government, social organisations and citizens." Amnesty International has said that the charge sheet against them includes a precise list of all their communications abroad.

The appeal trial comes just after the Vietnamese police launched a major offensive against Vietnam’s Unified Buddhist Church, which has been strongly condemned by the European Parliament. The US House of Representatives has also passed a resolution calling on Hanoi to release all Vietnamese imprisoned or under house arrest for practising their faith or defending religious freedom. After an extraordinary meeting, the presidium of the central committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front - a satellite organisation of the Vietnamese Communist Party - on 27 November denounced the US and European resolutions, which it said "misrepresented religious reality in Vietnam".

The presidium also stressed that the stances taken could damage economic co-operation between Vietnam and the various countries involved. It called on its citizens to "redouble their vigilance in the face of plots and acts by hostile forces aiming to sabotage the great national unity bloc."




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
Blogger gets two and a half years in prison after “unfair and unfounded” conviction on tax fraud charge

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