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Vietnam announces early release of journalist jailed for exposing state corruption

Vietnam announces early release of journalist jailed for exposing state corruption
Nguyen Thi Viet Hang (C), sister of reporter Nguyen Viet Chien, and some other his relatives, cry outside Hanoi People's Court after Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal on October 15, 2008 in Hanoi. The People's Court of Hanoi found him guilty of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

The Vietnamese government has announced the imminent early release of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien of the daily Thanh Nien, who was sentenced to two years in prison on October 15, 2008 for “abusing democratic freedom to damage state interests”, after he investigated a major corruption scandal in 2006.

Public security vice-minister Le The Tiem announced that he would be released on January 17 along with 15,140 other prisoners, as part of an amnesty to mark the Vietnamese New Year, which is based on the lunar calendar.

“This early release is obviously a good thing in itself, but it will not make us forget that this journalist should never have gone to prison in the first place”, Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “This case now being closed, it is time for the government to introduce reforms that will prevent this kind of scandal happening again,” it added.

Tiem described Nguyen Viet Chien’s case as “special”. “He is being released during this presidential amnesty because of the penitence he showed while serving his sentence,” he said.

“Our family is very happy”, Chien’s son, Nguyen Tuan, told the AFP news agency. “It is a huge joy for us after a year of trouble. This has come at a good time because my father is not in good health. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who supported him during this difficult year”.

Among those to be released as part of the amnesty are 36 foreigners: 19 Chinese, 5 Taiwanese, 4 Cambodians, 3 Malaysians, one Briton, one Frenchman, one South Korean, one Laotian and one Sri Lankan.

Date posted: January 17, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 320