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Another blogger charged with "subversion" faces death penalty

Another blogger charged with "subversion" faces death penalty

Published on Wednesday 23 December 2009.
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Human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh has been charged with “subversion” by the prosecutor’s office, according to the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien. He’s now facing death penalty.

Le was initially accused of “propaganda against the state” but now faces a subversion charge along with pro-democracy blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, who was arrested on 7 July, while the lawyer was arrested on 13 June.

Both are accused of having links with the banned Democratic Party of Vietnam, producing propaganda documents against the regime and incitement to subversion on the Internet. No date has yet been announced for their trial but it could be held early next year.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the charges against Le Cong Dinh and Nguyen Tien Trung, the object of which is to create the illusion of a genuine international conspiracy against the Hanoi government, when the two men have done nothing but express their opinion. “We call for their immediate and unconditional release”, said the organisation.

Sign the petition for the release of Nguyen Tien Trung, a human rights activist who was formerly a student in France:

14 December 2009 - Blogger and activist faces possible death penalty

Reporters Without Borders is deeply concerned about French-educated blogger and pro-democracy activist Nguyen Tien Trung, now facing a possible death penalty under article 79 of the criminal code after the charges against him were changed to “trying to overthrow the people’s government.” Arrested more than five months ago, he is due to be tried at the end of the month.

“We call for Nguyen Tien Trung’s immediate and unconditional release as the charges against him are entirely fabricated,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Trung is a pacifist who has never endangered the Vietnamese state. He just exercised his right to free expression, a right he learned to use in France.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Trung is a scapegoat. The authorities want to make an example of him in order to intimidate other Vietnamese students who want to press for more freedom when they return home after studying abroad.”

Trung’s family told Reporters Without Borders that his father was allowed to visit him on 10 December for the second time since his arrest. The authorities are reportedly now going to allow his family to visit him once a month. Trung seemed to be in good physical and psychological condition and did his best to reassure his father. He asked his father to bring him books, especially economics and French books. The authorities are considering the request.

A former student at the National Institute for Applied Sciences (INSA) in the northern French city of Rennes, where he got a masters in information technology, Trung was arrested at his parents’ home in Ho Chi Minh City on 7 July on a charge of propaganda against the state under article 88 of the criminal code. A government TV station broadcast taped footage in which he made a confession.

He seems to have been arrested because of the pro-democracy views he posted online and, in particular, an open letter to the government about education policies.

The Trung support committee website posted an opinion piece by Philippe Echart, who was one of Trung’s teachers at the INSA.

“It is strange for a teacher to realise that one his students, which whom he had a few talks and to whom he paid special attention because he was a foreigner, is now being in prison at the other end of the world, in his own country, on serious charges,” Echard writes. “And why is he in prison? For expressing his views freely. For criticising university education in Vietnam. For calling for more freedoms and more democracy, as many other intellectuals in his country have.”

The support committee is calling for a determined campaign on his behalf. “The worst that could happen to Trung is that people gradually forget him,” the committee’s appeal says. Trung’s friends and family have relaunched the campaign for his release. Sign a petition at the website.




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