Vietnamese internet writer and dissident Pham Hong Son released

The Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN welcomes the release of internet publisher and dissident Pham Hong Son, who was freed under a Presidential Amnesty to mark Vietnam’s National Day on 2 September. Pham Hong Son’s release is conditional, as he is still required to serve three years of administrative detention (house arrest).

Internet publisher Pham Hong Son was arrested on 27 March 2002 and sentenced to thirteen years in prison and three years’ house arrest by the Ha Noi People’s Court on 18 June 2003. He was convicted on espionage charges for his pro-democracy activities, including using email to “translate and send anti-Party documents and anti-government documents” to colleagues abroad. In an appeal hearing on 26 August 2003, the Hanoi Supreme Court upheld the conviction against internet publisher Pham Hong Son, but reduced his sentence from thirteen to five years imprisonment.

Pham Hong Son, aged thirty-seven, is a medical doctor by training, but since 2001 has dedicated himself to writing and translating pro-democracy articles and posting them on various overseas websites. He is married with two sons aged seven and five, and was forbidden from receiving family visits in detention. He is a recipient of the 2003 Hellman/Hammett awards for persecuted writers.

The health of Pham Hong Son was reported to have seriously deteriorated during his detention, although according to his wife he is now undergoing thorough medical checks and is said to be doing well. The conditions of his house arrest are said to involve heavy surveillance and severe restrictions on his movements.


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