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Freedom House Denounces Sentencing of Prominent Vietnamese Blogger in Continued Crackdown on Free Expression
Freedom House strongly condemns today’s sentencing of prominent Vietnamese blogger, lawyer, and human rights defender Le Quoc Quan to 30 months in prison and a fine of $59,000, and calls upon the government of Vietnam to immediately release him and dismiss his sentence.
Quan was arrested in December 2012 and charged with alleged ‘tax evasion,’ a charge commonly used by the Vietnamese government to intimidate activists and silence the government’s critics. During his first two months of detention, Quan was held incommunicado, and has for months been denied visits from his family. Prior to his arrest, Quan exposed human rights abuses commonly ignored by Vietnamese state media on his popular blog. He also defended human rights cases in the Vietnamese courts until he was disbarred in 2007.
Quan’s arrest violates Vietnam’s obligations under international law to protect his rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. His treatment during detention also violates Vietnam’s responsibility under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure and protect the rights of human rights defenders.
Freedom of expression is severely curtailed in Vietnam, resulting in the country being rated Not Free in the Freedom of the World 2013, Freedom of the Press 2013, and Freedom on the Net 2012 reports. Harassment of cyber-activists in Vietnam has been on the rise since 2008, with the government engaging in a targeted campaign against critics, a crackdown on blogs and social media, and the harassment and detention of independent bloggers and their families.
Freedom in the World 2013: Vietnam
Freedom of the Press 2013: Vietnam
Countries at the Crossroads 2012: Vietnam
Freedom on the Net 2012: Vietnam
Photo Credit: Frontline Defenders