Hunger-striking Nguyen Vu Binh was quietly moved to Nam Ha Prison

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2004�The wife of jailed Vietnamese cyber-dissident Nguyen Vu Binh is calling on the Hanoi government to let her visit her husband, nearly two weeks after he launched a hunger strike after an appeals court upheld his seven-year jail term for espionage, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Bui Thi Kim Ngan also told RFA�s Vietnamese service that authorities had transferred her husband around May 18 from Hoa Lo Moi Prison in Hanoi to Ba Sao Prison in Nam Ha, about 75 kms south of the Vietnamese capital. Sources in Hanoi who asked not to be named confirmed Vu Binh's transfer to Nam Ha prison. Vu Binh was convicted of espionage for posting an article on the Internet criticizing the Vietnamese government.

"I have not yet been allowed to visit my husband," Ngan said in an interview. "They've already transferred my husband to the camp. They moved him two days ago but didn't inform me. So when I arrived at the previous camp, they told me they had transferred him� They've transferred my husband to Nam Ha Prison."

Ngan said she would petition Friday "for an immediate meeting with my husband, because I understand that he has been on a hunger strike for about a dozen days or more�and I believe his life may be in danger."

At 9 p.m. on May 19, she said, Vu Binh�s father phoned her to say that a group of officials had driven to his home in Xuan Truong Village, Nam Dinh Province, to collect him May 15, saying they would drive him to Hanoi to visit his son "and give him some advice before he was transferred."

Having driven only 18 of the 130 kms to Hanoi, however, the officials stopped for lunch, phoned Hanoi, and announced that the camp where Vu Binh was being held was closed for the day and that Vu Binh�s father would simply return home.

"They told him, �You just stay home until Thursday or Friday, and then we will come and pick you up for you to go and see your son and give him some advice before his transfer�� That means they gave an appointment for tomorrow or the day after. That's why my husband's father just simply stays home and wait for them to pick him up. Nobody knows if they will keep their promise for tomorrow�I really don�t know."

"Today when I asked the camp for confirmation of my husband�s transfer, they� said I should go to the office for confirmation and then go contact the camp that received my husband on Monday�"

According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, Vu Binh�a former journalist on the official Vietnamese Communist Party publication Tap Chi Cong San�launched a hunger strike May 5 after an appellate court upheld his sentence of seven years� jail and three years� house arrest for criticizing the government.

Vu Binh founded the independent organization Democracy and Freedom. He has written and posted on the Internet since 2001 a number of articles appealing for political and economic reform in Vietnam.

Vietnam�s official media on Thursday reported a new crackdown on online dissent, with the party newspaper Nhan Dan announcing a campaign against "bad and poisonous information on the Internet."

After an April 23 meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, three government ministries have been ordered to monitor online information and punish those who abuse the Internet, the paper said. The ministries were also asked to report their results monthly to the prime minister, it said. The order also asked the Ministry of Culture and Information to carefully screen editors of online publications.

In March, the government announced new regulations that sharply tightened control over Internet usage. It also prohibited use of the Internet to disseminate "state secrets" and called for measures to stop acts that "infringe upon national security or social order and safety."

A half-dozen cyber-dissidents have drawn stiff prison terms over the last two years. #####


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