Imprisoned journalist ends hunger strike

New York, May 27, 2004—Nguyen Vu Binh, an imprisoned journalist who went on a hunger strike on May 5 after his conviction on espionage charges was upheld on appeal, has ended his strike and is suffering from ill health, according to CPJ sources and Agence France-Presse.

Binh’s wife, Biu Thi Kim Ngan, was allowed to visit Binh on May 24 at the Ba Sao Prison in Ha Nam Province, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the capital, Hanoi. Ngan told Agence France-Presse that Binh “looked so weak and pale” after being on hunger strike for 14 days, but that he started eating again on May 20.

On September 25, 2002, Binh was arrested from his home in Hanoi. Shortly before his arrest, Binh had written and distributed online an essay that criticized Vietnam’s border agreements with China. He was held incommunicado until December 31, 2003, when the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced him to seven years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest upon his release.

Binh is one of five journalists currently behind bars in Vietnam for writing or distributing their work online. The other journalists are Le Chi Quang, Pham Hong Son, Pham Que Duong, and Nguyen Dan Que.

Efforts by authorities to crackdown on online dissent continue. In March, Vietnam announced a series of tight regulations on providing and using the Internet in Internet cafés. It is also prohibited to use the Internet to “infringe on national security,” or store information classified as “state secrets” on Internet-connected computers.

For more information on Binh’s case, see the news alert of May 21, 2004 and the protest letter of January 5, 2004.