Journalist’s sentence reduced on appeal

New York, August 26, 2003—In an appeal trial heard today, the Hanoi Supreme Court reduced the prison sentence of journalist Pham Hong Son from 13 years to five years. Son is still required to serve three years of administrative detention, or house arrest, upon release.

Son’s wife, Vu Thuy Ha, was the only witness allowed into today’s trial. Foreign correspondents and diplomats were refused entry to the court.

“By prosecuting Pham Hong Son, the Vietnamese government has trampled on his internationally recognized rights to free expression and due process,” said CPJ’s executive director Ann Cooper. “A sentence reduction does not change this grave injustice.”

Pham Hong Son, a medical doctor by training, was arrested in March 2002 after writing and distributing online essays advocating political reform. In June 2003, he was sentenced in a closed trial to 13 years in prison on espionage charges, one of the harshest sentences handed down to a journalist in recent years.

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