VIETNAM: Lawyer and dissident writer arbitrary detained
16 June 2009
The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Le Cong Dinh, lawyer and dissident writer arrested on 13 June 2009. The authorities have charged him with â€˜spreading propaganda against the state’, which carries a twenty year prison term. International PEN fears that Le Cong Dinh may be held for his legitimate reporting, and if so, it calls for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a signatory.
According to PEN’s information, Le Cong Dinh was arrested in Saigon by the security police at 11am on 13 June 2009. His home and his office were searched and his documents seized. According to press reports, the head of the Investigation Agency of the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security stated that Le Cong Dinh was arrested for allegedly reporting â€˜distorted’ facts to foreign media and offending the country’s Prime Minister. Le Cong Dinh has been charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code for â€˜spreading propaganda against the state”, and could face up to twenty years of imprisonment if found guilty.
Born in 1 October 1968, Le Cong Dinh has been working as a lawyer defending journalists, human rights activists and internet writers prosecuted in Viet Nam for their reporting, including lawyers and dissident writers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, and the renowned blogger Dieu Cay, who have been taken up as main cases by International PEN WiPC. Le Cong Dinh has also written for various international media outlets, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Free Asia (RFA), and banned oveseas Vietnamese websites such as the “Vietnam Democracy Movement”, “Vietnam Reform”, “New Horizon”, “Thorough Discussion”, and “Democratic Freedom”, which Vietnamese authorities view as “subversive”.
According to Reporters Without Borders, sources said that Le Cong Dinh’s arrest might be related to a libel case brought by several lawyers against the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.