Nguyen Vu Binh

D.o.B: c. 1968

Profession: Writer and leading member of the Democracy Club for Vietnam.

Date of Arrest: 21 July 2002, re-arrested 25 September 2002

Sentence: Sentenced on 31 December 2003 to seven years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of house arrest

Details of Trial: Sentenced by the Hanoi People’s Court on 31 December 2003, in a three-hour trial on charges of espionage. The official news agency in Vietnam reported that he had been convicted on charges of having ‘written and exchange, with various opportunist elements in the country, information and materials that distorted the party and state policies.’ He was held incommunicado from 25 September 2002. On 5 May 2004, Hanoi Supreme Court upheld his sentence.

Place of Detention: Ba Sao Prison, Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam.

Conditions of Detention: It was reported that Nguyen Vu Binh was held in extremely poor conditions, alongside common criminals in a labour camp. Despite physical problems, he did not receive adequate medical care and nutrition.

Previous Imprisonment: Previously detained in July 2002 and under surveillance since April 2002.

Professional Details: Nguyen Vu Binh is a leading member of the Democracy Club for Vietnam. As a journalist, he worked for Tap Chi Cong (‘Journal of Communism’), the official publication of the Communist Party of Vietnam, for ten years. However, he left this post in January 2001 and formed the independent Liberal Democratic Party. He has written several articles criticising governmental policy and calling for political reform. He is believed to have been targeted for one of his essays ‘Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement’ that was published on the internet. Recipient of the Hellman/Hammett Award 2002

Health Concerns: On 7 January 2007, Nguyen Vu Binh’s wife reported that his blood pressure was dangerously high. He has been ill for some time, suffering from an undiagnosed chronic gastrointestinal disease and high blood pressure. Despite appeals, he was repeatedly refused medical treatment.

Honorary Member: English PEN, Suisse Romande PEN

Released: On 10 June 2007, after serving four years of a seven-year prison on
espionage charges for his critical writings, Nguyen was released. He will still have to serve three years of house arrest. He was among three leading dissidents to be granted an amnesty by President Nguyen
Minh Triet, two weeks ahead of his planned visit to the United States.
Sustained international pressure is thought to have contributed to his
early release. Thank you to all those who wrote letters to the Vietnamese authorities on his behalf.

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