Vietnam: One Internet journalist freed; two others still jailed

New York, January 26, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of freelance Internet journalist Nguyen Khac Toan but deplores the continued imprisonment of two other online reporters in Vietnam. Authorities in Hanoi freed Toan on Tuesday, according to Doan Viet Hoat, a prominent U.S.-based dissident, and international news reports.

Toan had been sentenced to 12 years in prison on December 20, 2002, after a one-day trial. He was arrested for reporting on demonstrations outside the National Assembly in December 2001 and January 2002 during which peasants demanded compensation for land seized by the government for redevelopment.

In an interview with the BBC, Toan said he was released for good behavior but faces three years of travel and political restrictions.

“We’re pleased that Nguyen Khac Toan has been freed after being unjustly jailed for more than three years,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “But the continued detention of Nguyen Vu Binh and Pham Hong Son, online writers who are serving sentences of seven years and five years, shows that Vietnam has not relaxed its efforts to restrict journalists and curtail freedom of speech.”