A journalist imprisoned for five years for his reporting on government corruption was released over the weekend, while a trial pending against three bloggers was postponed. Truong Minh Duc, a freelance journalist said after his release on May 5 that he was “not in good health and needs hospital treatment for my diseases related to the heart and skin,” according to local media reports. He added that he experienced harsh treatment while in prison. Duc said he would “resume his work to fight for civilians’ rights even though he may face problems from the government.” Duc was arrested on May 5, 2007, in the southern province of Kien Giang and was accused of “misusing rights of freedom and democracy to undermine the state’s interests and citizens’ legal rights,” according to the charge made against him at the time, and which he continues to deny. Meanwhile local sources say a court hearing in Ho Chi Minh City scheduled for May 15 against three bloggers “may be adjourned indefinitely.” The sources added: “Court officials withdrew invitations to the hearing of lawyers of the bloggers and they neither gave them any explanation for the postponement nor informed them about the new date.” The bloggers, identified as Dieu Cay (real name Nguyen Van Hai), Anh Ba Sai Gon (real name Phan Thanh Hai) and Ta Phong Tan, are accused of spreading anti-government propaganda. “Anh Ba Sai Gon is not in good health, while Ta Phong Tan has been maintaining a hunger strike for 35 days,” the sources said. Dieu Cay was arrested in 2008 and accused of tax evasion. He remains in prison despite completing his sentence in October 2010. Anh Ba Sai Gon was arrested in 2010 and Ta Phong Tan was arrested in September last year.
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