Condemning the decision by a Vietnam court to uphold sentence of Le Quoc Quan

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

His Excellency To Anh Dzung
Ambassador of Vietnam to Canada
55 MacKay Street
Ottawa, K1M 2B2

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 echoes a coalition of 14 human rights groups in condemning the decision by a Vietnam appeal court to uphold a 30 month prison sentence for Vietnamese human rights lawyer and blogger, Le Quoc Quan. Quan has been imprisoned since December 2012, and was charged with tax evasion. Le Quoc Quan’s prison sentence was originally handed down on October 2, 2013.

On February 18, 2014, the Hanoi Appeal Court upheld Quan’s conviction under unsubstantiated charges of tax evasion, as well as the penalties of prison time and a fine of $59,000 USD. In the run-up to his 2013 trial, Quan was held in Hoa Lo Prison without access to his lawyer and family. He also undertook a hunger strike ahead of his appeal in protest of the conditions of his imprisonment that lasted nearly a month. As a human rights defender and blogger, Quan has been subject to arbitrary arrests and ongoing surveillance as a result of his advocacy work. CJFE is deeply concerned that Quan's ongoing detention is politically motivated to prevent him from exercising his right to freedom of expression and continuing his human rights work in Vietnam.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) reviewed Vietnam's human rights record on February 5, 2014 as the international community urged the Vietnamese government to address the deteriorating situation in the country. CJFE calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release Quan and other detained human rights defenders, guaranteeing their right to freedom of expression, and to halt the crackdown on free speech on and off-line.

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

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President