VIETNAMESE CYBER-DISSIDENT SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS FOR ESPIONAGE


2003-12-31
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WASHINGTON�Vietnamese �cyber-dissident� and journalist Nguyen Vu Binh has been sentenced to seven years in jail for criticizing border agreements between Vietnam and China, RFA reports.

Binh, 35, was arrested in September 2002 following the Internet publication of an article entitled �A Reflection on Sino-Vietnamese Border Agreements.� The article accused the communist government in Hanoi of giving land to China and landed him in trouble with Vietnamese authorities as a result.

Binh�s Dec. 31 trial, which lasted three hours, was tightly secured; reporters and diplomats were not allowed access to the courtroom.

�This is an unfair, absurd, and inhumane court,� Binh�s wife, Bui Thi Kim Ngan, told RFA�s Vietnamese service. �My husband rejects the charge because he didn�t do anything wrong�yet he�s still found guilty. If the judge already made a decision about my husband�s sentence, why didn�t they put him in jail without such a ridiculous trial?�

�We will definitely appeal until my husband sees justice,� Ngan said.

The United States has strongly protested the sentence, saying in a statement: �No one should be imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of one�s views� The sentencing of Nguyen Vu Binh truly violates international standards of the protection of human rights, individual freedom of expression, freedom of information.�

Binh worked as a journalist for the Communist Party�s Communist Review for almost 10 years before resigning in early 2001 to apply for permission to form an independent organization called the Liberal Democratic Party with other dissidents. He also applied to form an anti-corruption organization but was turned down by Hanoi.

Binh is one of several �cyber-dissidents� tried in the last year in what appears to be the communist government�s crackdown on its critics. Earlier this year, Nguyen Khac Toan was charged with espionage for posting information about peasant grievances on the Internet and given 12 years in jail plus four years of house arrest. In June, Dr. Pham Hong Son was handed a 13-year jail term and three years� house arrest for espionage. Son translated a U.S. State Department document titled �What is Democracy?� and posted it to the Internet in Vietnamese in March 2002. #####

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