Imprisoned Vietnamese Blogger

•The lawyer and family of popular Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Hoang Hai have not been allowed to visit him in prison for six months and have been prevented from sending him food and medicine.

•Despite completing a 30-month prison sentence in October 2010, he was detained for further investigation on charges of “conducting propaganda” against the State.

•Nguyen Hoang Hai, who is around 60 years old, was last seen by his son at Xuan Loc prison in south-east Viet Nam on 19 October 2010, where he had almost completed a 2½ year prison sentence for tax fraud, a charge believed to be politically motivated.

•Nguyen Hoang Hai had written articles critical of China’s foreign policies with regard to Viet Nam, taken part in peaceful protests and publicly criticised government policies before his arrest in April 2008, speaking out for human rights in Viet Nam in his blogs.

•Freedom of expression is strictly controlled in Viet Nam. Repression against dissidents has intensified in the last two years, characterised by arrests and trials of political and human rights activists. At least 30 prisoners of conscience are currently serving long prison terms for their peaceful activities.

•The authorities use vaguely worded provisions of the Penal Code to criminalise peaceful dissent. Political activists are commonly charged with “spying”, “conducting propaganda” against the state and “activities aimed at overthrowing” the state, for which they receive long prison terms and, on release, are also sentenced to periods of up to 5 years’ house arrest or probation.

•Prison conditions in Viet Nam are generally harsh, with poor food and limited healthcare; prisoners are reliant on additional supplies from their families.

Our group has written to the Minister of Public Security, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador Mr Tran Quang Hoan to express our concern for his health and for the denial of access to his lawyer, to his family and to food and medicine.

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