~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

[Year 1997]
[Year 1998]
[Year 1999]
[Year 2000]
[Year 2001]

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 added.

``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 unconditional release.

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 case.

``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 remained problematic.
Some foreign governments and international human rights groups say Vietnam imprisons people for peaceful expression of political or religious views -- a charge Hanoi rejects.

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 said.

Reuters - May 14, 1999.