French reporter expelled

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New York, April 14, 2000
— Journalist Sylvaine Pasquier, a reporter for the French weekly magazine L’Express, was expelled from Vietnam by local authorities, who put her on an April 14 commercial flight to Bangkok.

Pasquier, a French citizen, was reporting in southern Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Authorities first approached her on April 12, outside the home of a political dissident. She was detained and interrogated at least three times in two days, according to sources at L’Express.

Foreign correspondents have converged on Ho Chi Minh City in recent days to cover the 25th anniversary of the communist forces’ capture of Saigon on April 30, 1975, which ended the Vietnam War.

Authorities said Pasquier had “broken Vietnamese immigration rules” by not obtaining a special press visa. In CPJ’s view, Vietnam uses the press visa requirement to control and monitor foreign correspondents. Authorities also require journalists to obtain written permission from the foreign ministry before conducting interviews with Vietnamese nationals.

“Such onerous restrictions are clearly designed to curb independent reporting,” said Kavita Menon, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “With domestic media already under firm state control, the government is obviously not prepared to allow the international media any greater latitude.”