Imprisoned journalist on hunger strike

New York, May 6, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about jailed Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, who is currently on a hunger strike. On May 5, the Supreme People’s Court in the capital, Hanoi, rejected Binh’s appeal and upheld his seven-year sentence on charges of espionage.

Following the announcement of the appeal verdict, Binh declared in court, “To me, either freedom or death. If the authorities won’t release me, I will start my hunger strike now,” according to CPJ sources. Binh has refused to eat since the trial finished. He is currently being held at New Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi.

On September 25, 2002, Binh was arrested at his home in Hanoi. On December 31, 2003, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced him to seven years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest upon his release.

Shortly before his arrest, Binh had written and distributed online an article titled “Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement,” which criticized land and sea border agreements between the two countries. An official news report of the appeal hearing said that Binh had “written documents calling for outside intervention in Vietnam’s internal affairs.” A former journalist with the official Tap Chi Cong San (Journal of Communism), Binh has written several articles in recent years calling for political reform and criticizing current government policy.

For background on Nguyen Vu Binh’s case, please see CPJ’s May 3 news alert or January 5 protest letter.