Vietnam allows jailed dissident to return home
HANOI - A
prominent Vietnamese dissident
arrested more than two months ago
has been freed from jail and allowed
to return home, diplomats in Hanoi
said on Friday.
Nguyen Thanh Giang, a 62-year-old
geophysicist, was released from
prison on Monday but is not
permitted to leave his house without
police permission and his telephone
remains disconnected, the diplomats
``It is not clear whether charges
(against Giang) have been dropped,
whether there were charges, or
whether he will not be charged,'' one
diplomat told Reuters.
Vietnamese government officials
were not immediately available for
comment, although a foreign ministry
spokeswoman said last month that
Giang had been charged under article
205a of the country's Penal Code.
This article deals with ``abusing
democratic rights'' and carries a
maximum three-year jail term.
Giang's arrest on March 4 for
allegedly possessing documents
considered anti-communist provoked
a storm of international protest.
The U.S. State Department, other
governments and human rights
groups called for his immediate and
The diplomat said that as a condition
for his release Giang and his
86-year-old father had signed an
official pledge stating they would not
criticise Hanoi's communist regime.
Giang's father holds U.S. citizenship
and was a former employee of the
American embassy in Saigon who
fled the country at the end of the
Vietnam War in 1975. He is believed
to have returned to live in Hanoi with
his son and daughter-in-law.
One diplomat said Giang considered
international pressure had helped his
``During his stay in prison Giang
undertook two six-day hunger strikes
where he drank water but refused
food,'' the diplomat said.
``(Giang) said he was treated well,
had an air-conditioned cell that he
shared with one other prisoner, and
that the authorities were clearly very
concerned about his health and
well-being,'' he added.
The diplomats welcomed Giang's
release from jail but stressed other
human rights issues in Vietnam
Some foreign governments and
international human rights groups say
Vietnam imprisons people for
peaceful expression of political or
religious views -- a charge Hanoi
Earlier on Friday, it emerged that
Hanoi security police had raided a
Protestant bible meeting a week
earlier and arrested 20 people. One
man, Reverend Tran Dinh (Paul) Ai,
was still being detained, a source
Reuters - May 14, 1999.