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2011 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize recipient Bui Chat set free on conditions

(IPA/IFEX) - 3 May 2011, Geneva - Bui Chat, recipient of the 2011 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was temporarily released on 2 May after having been arrested by authorities, but remains under surveillance and subject to continuing interrogation by the authorities in Vietnam.

Bui Chat was arrested on 30 April on his return to Vietnam from Buenos Aires, where he was honoured with the Freedom to Publish award. The Award and Prize certificate were confiscated. He was compelled to return to the police for interrogation on 3 May. A series of interrogations is reportedly planned. While welcoming his release, the IPA remains gravely concerned that Bui Chat remains subject to continued interrogation and re-arrest, and calls on the authorities for his final and permanent release, the return of his Award and Prize certificate, and the assurance that no criminal charges will be pressed against him.

According to reports received by the IPA, Bui Chat was taken to his home on 1 May following his return from receiving the award in Buenos Aires. At that time the authorities searched throughout his home, then told Bui Chat to pack some clothes and proceeded with a preliminary detention order. The location of his detention had not been disclosed to his family. Bui Chat may face up to 12 months in prison under Vietnamese criminal law before an official charge needs to be laid.

IPA has been liaising with the relevant authorities to facilitate Bui Chat's release. The IPA calls upon governments and advocates for human rights and freedom of expression to join publishers in calling for Bui Chat's final and complete release, and for the assurance that no criminal charges will be pressed against him.

Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, declared: "IPA welcomes the temporary release of Bui Chat, but remains worried as he is still being interrogated by police and Vietnamese law theoretically permits his detention for up to 12 months before charges are being pressed. We therefore keep urging the Vietnamese authorities to release him definitely and permanently. His prize and award certificate should also be returned to him".

More about Bui Chat:

The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee and the Board of the IPA have named Bui Chat, a courageous underground publisher in Vietnam, and the leader of Giay Vun Publishing House, as winner of the 2011 Freedom to Publish Award. Giay Vun is devoted to the printing and publishing of the works of Vietnam's "pavement poets" beyond the reach of censorship authorities. Under Bui Chat's leadership, Giay Vun has directly assisted in the establishment in Vietnam of other publishing houses that operate independently and freely, publishing the works of banned authors and historians.

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