Imprisoned journalist on hunger strike transferred

New York, May 21, 2004—Nguyen Vu Binh, an imprisoned journalist who has been on a hunger strike since May 5, was moved from the Hoa Lo Moi Prison in the capital, Hanoi, to the Ba Sao Prison in Ha Nam Province, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Hanoi, on or around May 18, according to CPJ sources and Radio Free Asia.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese service, Binh’s wife, Bui Thi Kim Ngan, said she only found out about her husband’s transfer after she went to Hoa Lo Moi Prison to try to see him on May 18, when she was informed that he was no longer there.

Binh launched the hunger strike 16 days ago, when the Supreme People’s Court in Hanoi rejected his appeal and upheld his seven-year sentence on charges of espionage.

“We are gravely concerned about the health of our colleague Nguyen Vu Binh,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Binh should be immediately and unconditionally released from prison and given the medical attention that he urgently needs,” said Cooper.

Binh was arrested at his home in Hanoi on September 25, 2002. 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.

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 and January 5 protest letter.