We are deeply troubled by the convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who appear to have done nothing more than exercise their right to freedom of expression. Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) was sentenced to twelve years, Ta Phong Tan received ten years, and Phan Thanh Hai, four years. All face house arrest following completion of their sentences.
Punishing activists for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These convictions are the latest in a series of moves by Vietnamese authorities to restrict freedom of expression. The Vietnamese government should release these three bloggers, all prisoners of conscience, and adhere to its international obligations immediately.
A free media is essential to an open and just society. As Secretary Clinton has noted, protection of human rights is a necessary step in developing a closer, more mature bilateral relationship.