Vietnam: Lawyers and internet writers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan sentenced

***UPDATE: The below convictions were upheld on appeal on 28 November 2007. Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan had their prison sentences of five and four years respectively reduced by one year in each case, but they were each ordered to serve a further period in ‘administrative detention’ (house arrest) of four and three years respectively. ***

English PEN protests the imprisonment of lawyers and internet writers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, who were sentenced to five years and four years respectively by the Hanoi People’s Court on 11 May 2007.

PEN is alarmed about an apparent crackdown on leading pro-democracy figures in recent weeks, including Father Nguyen Van Ly, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in March 2007. 

According to PEN’s information, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan were arrested at their homes on 6 March 2007, accused of ‘hostile propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’ for their critical writings and dissident activities with the pro-democracy movement ‘Bloc 8406’, including the recent signing of a petition under their real names. They were found guilty of ‘spreading propaganda intended to undermine Vietnam’s Communist government’ under Article 88 of the Criminal Code on 11 May 2007, and sentenced to five and four years in prison respectively.

Nguyen Van Dai is one of the leaders of the democracy movement ‘Bloc 8406’ and regularly posts pro-democracy essays on foreign websites. He started a web-log on the Reporters Without Borders web-log platform shortly before his arrest ( Le Thi Cong Nhan is the spokesperson for the recently founded Vietnam Progression Party. She is also a member of the democracy movement ‘Bloc 8406’.

Both have been under heavy surveillance for some time for their dissident activities. On 3 February 2007, they were briefly detained and held for 48 hours. Nguyen Van Dai was reportedly subjected to criticism by a ‘popular court’ on 8 February 2007, in which 200 residents from a district of Hanoi were mobilised by the authorities to insult and denounce him for being a ‘traitor’.
Please send appeals:

• Protesting the sentencing of pro-democracy activists and Internet writers Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan;
• Expressing deep concern about what appears to be a current crackdown on leading pro-democracy activists and writers for their peaceful dissident activities;
• Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all writers held in Vietnam in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.

His Excellency Nguyen Minh Triet
President, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Prime Minister Nguyên Tân Dung
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Lê Doan Hop, Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam 
It may be more effective to send appeals to Vietnamese representatives in London:

HE Mr. Trinh Duc Du
12-14 Victoria Road
London W8 5RD
Fax: 020 7565 3853

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