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(Washington, D.C.) – The Vietnamese authorities must immediately release a French-Vietnamese blogger who has been sentenced to three years in prison on national security charges, Amnesty International said today.
Professor Pham Minh Hoang, a math teacher who holds dual nationality, was accused of writing articles that “blackened the image of the country” by the judge at the trial in Ho Chi Minh City.
He told the court his writings were not aimed at overthrowing anyone, and that Vietnam needs to be more democratic, reports said.
“To imprison a blogger for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression is outrageous. The authorities should immediately release Professor Hoang, and stop their harsh crackdown on peaceful government critics and activists,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Asia-Pacific. “Tuesday’s sentence and the continuing arrests of activists and bloggers paint an increasingly bleak picture of freedom of expression and association in Vietnam."
Professor Pham Minh Hoang, who is a member of the banned U.S.-based opposition group Viet Tan, joined other activists in criticizing a Chinese-backed bauxite mine in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, which they believe risks causing environmental degradation in the area.
The professor, who blogged under the name PhanKienQuoc, moved to France in 1973 but returned in 2000 to settle in Vietnam, where he taught mathematics at the Polytechnic University of Ho Chi Minh City.
Dozens of peaceful political critics and activists have been sentenced to long prison terms since Vietnam began a crackdown on freedom of expression in October 2009.
Amnesty International is calling on the Vietnamese government to allow judicial independence, and to repeal or reform vaguely worded security legislation used to prosecute peaceful critics.
Pham Minh Hoang’s family says he will appeal against the sentence.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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