Cyber-Dissidents Mother Urges Hanoi To Free Her Son

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WASHINGTON, July 29-The mother of a Vietnamese dissident is calling on Hanoi to free her son, five months after he was detained for publishing essays the government labels treasonous, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

"I can affirm that my son has violated no laws,� Nguyen Thi Kim Chung told RFA�s Vietnamese service, speaking out publicly for the first time. �The authorities must review his case in a strict and fair fashion, to see to it that it is consistent with the Constitution, international law, and the laws of humanity," she said, noting that her son suffers from a severe kidney ailment.

Chung�s son, Le Chi Quang, 33, was taken into custody Feb. 21 at an Internet cafe in front of Hanoi Law School. Authorities held him incommunicado for several days before allowing his family to visit him at the Thanh Liet prison camp in Ha Dong Province, outside Hanoi. Quang, a lawyer and computer teacher, was allowed to see his family sporadically between February and May, but those visits ended without explanation two months ago.

In 2000, Quang publicly denounced Vietnam�s still-secret 1999 and 2000 border agreements with China, in which many believe Hanoi made significant territorial concessions. He later published a eulogy for Haiphong dissident Vu Cao Quan and a study of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement.

Suspected of involvement in establishing a "People's Association to Help the Party and Government Fight Corruption," he was taken into police custody for several days of interrogation in September 2001. He was later targeted in a series of public denunciations by the government, which described him as �reactionary� and �subversive.� Authorities discouraged his friends from visiting and suspended telephone service to his home in September 2001.

�My son is totally innocent,� Chung, 62, wrote to the Vietnamese government July 8. �If you need to carry out further investigations please do so, but let my son out during this time. If you have concluded that he is guilty, then let him face trial in an open court.�

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch this month awarded Quang, along with four other Vietnamese writers, its cash Hellmann/Hammett grant for repressed authors. Nguyen Vu Binh, Nguyen Dan Que, Tran Van Khue, Thich Quang Do, and Quang were among 37 writers from 19 countries to receive the grants.

Vietnam, whose 80 million people are struggling to transition from socialism to a market-driven economy, has drawn international criticism for arresting Quang and other �cyber-dissidents� for posting anti-government writings on the World Wide Web.

In its latest report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department wrote that in 2001, Hanoi �continued to prohibit free speech that strayed outside narrow limits to question the role of the Party, criticize individual government leaders, promote pluralism or multiparty democracy, or question the regime's policies on sensitive matters such as human rights.�

Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts news, information, and cultural programming to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia--giving them a voice as well as a means of connecting with the world and with one another.

Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.



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