Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, May 30, 2008

U.S. envoy to Viet Nam discusses issue of jailed journalists

A U.S. human rights envoy to Viet Nam said Friday he had spoken to Vietnamese officials about the arrests of two journalists investigating a corruption scandal, urging the nation’s communist leaders to respect freedom of the press, Agence France-Presse reported the same day.

Nguyen Van Hai of the Tuoi Tre newspaper and Nguyen Viet Chien of the Thanh Nien daily were arrested for “abuse of power” earlier this month. Their arrests incited an outcry from other media outlets in a rare display of solidarity and defiance from Viet Nam’s tightly censored media.

David Kramer, U.S. assistant secretary of state from human rights, democracy and labor, told a Hanoi media briefing that he brought up the arrests when speaking with Vietnamese officials at the annual bilateral human rights dialogue session on Thursday.

“We did raise the case of the two journalists,” Kramer said. “And we urge that proper consideration be given in this matter and also stress the importance of freedom of the press in this connection.”

He added: “We stress that journalists need to be able to report and write or broadcast without concern for their safety and without concern for being arrested every time they may report on a sensitive matter.”

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