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French journalist and activist freed after being held for 25 days, nine dissidents still detained

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release on 12 December 2007 of French journalist and activist Nguyen Thi Thanh Van after 25 days in detention. The French authorities confirmed that she has left Vietnam. She is due to arrive at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport at 10:35 a.m. (local time) on 13 December. Nguyen Thi Thanh Van was accused of "terrorism" by the Vietnamese authorities together with three US citizens who were released on 11 December.

Former French government minister Françoise Hostalier, a parliamentary representative of Nord department, is among those who had signed a petition issued by the Thanh Van support committee. The signatories include many leading Vietnamese dissidents such as Catholic priests Chan Tin and Phan Van Loi, and intellectuals Do Nam Hai, Nguyen Chinh Ket and Bui Tin. The hundreds of French signatories include some residents of L'Haÿ-Les-Roses, where Thanh Van lives.

On 30 November, Thanh Van was shown on VTV4, a Vietnamese TV station targeted at overseas viewers. She was seen being forced to simulate clandestine activity, including the transport of leaflets.

Leon Truong, who was put on a flight back to the United States after his release on 11 December, was arrested at the same time as Thanh Van and, like her, accused of "terrorism" because of his support for the unrecognised opposition party Viet Tan. An American couple accused of supporting their so-called terrorist plot by bringing a firearm from the United States were also freed and allowed to fly home. Nine journalists and cyber-dissidents are still imprisoned including a fourth American citizen, Nguyen Quoc Quan.

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