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RSF calls for release of French journalist arrested while "peacefully promoting freedom of expression"

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF condemns the arrest of three activists of the pro-democracy party Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party), including Frenchwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, a renowned freedom of expression activist.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Van is a regular contributor to the Vietnamese community media in exile: the monthly "Viet Nam Dan Chu" ("Democracy in Vietnam") and Radio Chan Troi Moi (New Horizon - the voice of a democratic and reformed Vietnam). She is also secretary general of the France-Vietnam Mutual Aid Organisation (AFVE). She is married and lives in Paris.

According to a statement put out by Viet Tan, three of their activists were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on 17 November 2007. These were Nguyen and two Americans. They were arrested along with a Thai national and two Vietnamese as they tried to hold a meeting to promote the country's pro-democracy movement. They were placed in custody in Ho Chi Minh City, with the exception of Nguyen Quoc Quan, whose whereabouts are unknown.

"The arrest of five people, including French national Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, for taking part in a meeting, shows that the crackdown launched against dissidents in 2007 has not yet ended," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "We call for their immediate release since they were only engaged in peacefully promoting freedom of expression", it added.

The others being held are: Nguyen Quoc Quan, mathematics researcher from Sacramento, California; Truong Van Ba, restaurateur from Honolulu, Hawaii; Nguyen The Vu, a trader living in Ho Chi Minh City; Nguyen The Khiem, student and younger brother of Nguyen The Vu; and Thai national Somsak Khunmi.

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