Bangkok, October 17, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed news that Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known by her pen name “Mother Mushroom,” has been freed from prison and allowed to depart with her family on a flight to the United States.
“We are greatly pleased that Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is finally free, but strongly reiterate that she never should have been imprisoned in the first place,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Authorities should follow through on the move by releasing all the other journalists still wrongfully held behind bars in Vietnam.”
Quynh is scheduled to arrive in Houston, Texas, on Thursday with her two children and mother, according to a friend of the family who planned to meet her at the airport who communicated with CPJ by email. She plans to live in the American city in exile, the same source said.
Quynh had been jailed since October 2016 and was serving a 10-year sentence for distributing propaganda against the state, an anti-state crime under Article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code. Her conviction related to 18 articles she published online, including an investigative report on the high number of deaths of suspects in Vietnamese police custody.
News reports noted her release came shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left the country amid a bilateral warming trend. It was not immediately clear if the U.S. government played a role in negotiating Quynh’s release.
CPJ will present its International Press Freedom Award to Quynh at a ceremony in New York City in November in recognition of her courage in reporting. According to CPJ’s annual prison census, at least 10 journalists, including Quynh, were behind bars in Vietnam as of December 1, 2017.