Blogger Nguyen Van Hai continues to be detained

Friday, May 20, 2011

His Excellency Sy Vuong Ha Le, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
470 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6M8

May 20, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE condemns the continued detention of blogger Nguyen Van Hai, who has been held by Vietnamese authorities since April 19, 2008. Five days after he was detained, Mr. Hai was sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of tax fraud in a closed-door trial by the court in Ho Chi Minh City.

On October 19, 2010, when Mr. Hai had served his full sentence, he was not released. Instead, he was transferred to another prison and information about his location was withheld. Mr. Hai’s family was told that he was being temporarily detained for investigation on a new charge of propaganda against the state. Seven months later, his family still does not know where he is, what he has been charged with, or the condition of his health.

Known by his penname Dieu Cay, Mr. Hai belonged, at the time of his arrest, to a group called the Free Journalist Network in Vietnam. He is known for writing about the rights of the poor and justice for marginalized populations. Prior to his arrest in 2008, he had featured articles on his blog criticizing China’s policies in Tibet and opposing the Olympic torch relay through Vietnam. His colleagues believe he was sentenced because of his critical reporting.

CJFE urges the Vietnamese government to immediately provide information on the whereabouts and condition of Nguyen Van Hai, and allow his family access to him. CJFE also calls on Vietnamese authorities to reconsider the charges against Mr. Hai, and to ensure that all journalists are able to exercise their right to free expression without fear of reprisal.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Ms. Deborah Chatsis, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam
The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs