20 October 1998


Trial set to begin for journalist Nguyen Hoang Linh

Incident details

Nguyen Hoang Linh


legal action

(RSF/IFEX) - According to RSF, the trial of Vietnamese journalist Nguyen
Hoang Linh for "damaging the interests of the state, social organisations
and citizens" is due to begin in a Hanoi court on 21 October 1998. He had
exposed corruption among top Vietnamese customs officials in 1997. RSF said:
"Nguyen Hoang Linh was only doing his job as a journalist by exposing a case
of corruption in the Vietnamese administration. He has already been in
prison for too long: he should be released and acquitted, because he has
committed no crime except that of seeking the truth."

**Updates IFEX alerts of 27 May 1998 and 14 October 1997**
Former editor of the weekly "Doanh Nghiep" (Entreprise), Nguyen Hoang Linh
was arrested and jailed on 8 October 1997 in Hanoi after publishing a series
of reports condemning corruption in the importing of Ukrainian patrol boats.
The journalist, who was allowed no visits from his family for more than five
months, was dismissed from his job as editor in September 1997. He was
initially charged with "violating state secrets."

According to information gathered by RSF, the one-day trial will stand in
camera. Only two relatives of Nguyen Hoang Linh, his father and his wife, as
well as one person from his newspaper's staff, are allowed to attend. The
journalist will be assisted by a lawyer he hired after having refused to be
defended by an "official" lawyer.Vietnamese authorities have asked Nguyen
Hoang Linh to confess his "mistakes" before he can be released. The
journalist refused to do so in order to be tried.

By acquitting Nguyen Hoang Linh, the Vietnamese government would be making
another move towards press freedom following the presidential amnesty
granted to three other journalists - Doan Viet Hoat, Nguyen Dan Que and
Nguyen Van Thuan - on 1 September. RSF also calls on the government to pass
a law that would allow an independent press to flourish in Vietnam. The
organisation also asks the government to sign and ratify the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees freedom of


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