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Vietnam Releases Internet Users

By Stefan J. Bos,

8/18/2006 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) Truong Quoc Tuan, his brother Truong Quoc Huy and his fiancee Lisa Pham were detained at their Ho Chi Min City home on charges of violating article 19 of the criminal code by inciting the population to “overthrow the government.”

About 50 security forces were involved in the arrests and raided the home Nguyen told BosNewsLife. Nguyen said the three youngsters visited his group’s chat room via, which allows people to participate in discussions on a variety of subjects.

“Our visitors are from Vietnam and different countries who can voice their opinions either anti or pro Communism. Sometimes they just describe the hardships they have been through [or] the better lives they made for themselves in democratic countries,” Nguyen explained.

They apparently also visited the group’s separate website, He said they were detain on charges of “attempting to conduct a coup d’etat,” which he claimed “was just a false accuse the Vietnamese Communist authorities always use in their scheme to suffocate the people’s right to freedom of speech.”

Following the publicity several Christian and secular organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, began pressuring the Communist authorities of Vietnam and visited their families.

“This is the end of a scandalous case in which three young Internet users spent nearly nine months in detention without being tried,” the press freedom organization said in a reaction. “We call on the Vietnamese authorities to stop spying on chat forums. We also urge them to release the last two cyber-dissidents still being held in Vietnam , Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Vu Binh.”

Despite the reported persecution, Truong Quoc Huy said in an interview that he would “continue to criticize the government on their wrongdoings” and that, as soon as he got out of prison, he joined the 8406 Group, a pro-democracy group created last April.

“I only spoke out my thoughts and opinions about corruption, the lack of human rights and free speech,” he told media. He also confirmed that his interrogators told him authorities had been recording the voice discussions taking place on the Vietnam chat room he visited.

Human rights group say the Vietnamese Internet has been developing since 1997 under the strict control of the Communist Party. In September 2000, the regime proposed a new, inexpensive access formula that would not require a license, Reporters Without Borders said. “Its only drawback is that access is limited to Vietnamese sites,” the Paris-based organization added.

Besides Vietnam there is also international concern over the arrests of Internet dissidents, including Christians, in other Asian countries, including China , where authorities demand that US Internet companies working in the country cooperate in controlling the Web.

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