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Vietnam 31 December 2003

Cyberdissident Nguyen Vu Binh jailed for seven years

The former journalist was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on 31 December at the end of a trial lasting less than three hours. The people‚s court of Hanoi also sentenced him to three years house arrest once he reaches the end of his sentence.

Reporters Without Borders is extremely shocked by the severity of this sentence. The organisation condemns the abusive use of a spying charge against the cyberdissident and the mockery of justice in Vietnamese courts.

Vietnamese version bellow (.pdf)

Reporters Without Borders calls for release of cyberdissident NguyenVu Binh

Reporters Without Borders called for the release of cyberdissident Nguyen Vu Binh, whose trial for "espionage" was opening before the people’s court in Hanoi on 31 December. He risks the death penalty. The international press freedom organisation called on justice minister Uong Chu Luu to intervene to secure the release of the journalist, who previously worked for a Communist Party publication.

"We already wrote to the justice minister on 25 September seeking news about the prison conditions of Vu Binh, who has been held in solitary confinement since September 2002, but he did not see fit to reply," said Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary general. "We again call on this minister to put an end to the injustice suffered by the cyberdissident, a former Communist party member. Vietnam should be made to understand that its Internet users have the right to express their opinions," he added.

Sources close to the Vietnamese authorities said that the main charge reportedly relates to a letter sent by Nguyen on 19 July 2002 to the Human Rights Commission of the US Congress, in which he criticised the human rights situation in his country. He is apparently also charged with being in contact with "subversive dissidents" such as Le Chi Quang and Pham Hong Son, both of whom are also behind bars. He is further accused of having received 4.5 million dongs (about 230 euros) "from a reactionary organisation based abroad", taken part in an anti-corruption organisation and having called on the Vietnamese authorities in 2000 to set up a liberal democratic party. Vu Binh is also charged with posting messages of a "reactionary nature" on the Internet, in particular an essay headlined, "reflections on the Sino-Vietnamese borders agreements" in which he criticised the 1999 treaty between the two countries.

Two lawyers will represent Vu Binh at his trial, Me Dam Van Hiêu and Me Nguyen Thang Cang, who have been given access to the charge sheet.

Nguyen was formerly a journalist for the official organ of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Tap Chi Cong San (The Communist Review). He resigned from this job in 2001.

PDF - 17.4 kb
Vietnamese version

In this country
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Government frees cyber-dissident while keeping online activities under strict control
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