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Vietnam releases, then exiles jailed Catholic blogger

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to continue rights fight from US after being freed after serving 2 years of a 10-year sentence reporter, Hanoi reporter, Hanoi

Updated: October 18, 2018 09:05 AM GMT
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Vietnam releases, then exiles jailed Catholic blogger

Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh greets her two children on board a flight to the Unites States on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers)

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Vietnam has freed a well-known Catholic blogger and rights activist jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the U.S.

Mary Magdelene Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as Mother Mushroom, was driven from Prison Camp No.5 in Vietnam's northern province of Thanh Hoa to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Oct. 17, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers group said.

"Security officers only allowed Quynh to speak to officials from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi at the airport for five minutes before putting her on a flight at noon," the network said in a statement.

Quynh met her two children and mother Nguyen Tuyet Lan on the plane, which arrived in Houston the same day.

"Quynh was freed after 2 years and 7 days in jail in Vietnam. A new stage in the life of a woman who fights tirelessly for human rights, national sovereignty and environmental protection will begin," the network said.

Quynh, one of the co-founders of the network, was serving a 10-year prison sentence for publishing anti-government material and speaking out in support of political prisoners.

The blogger network said the 39-year-old mother of two would continue her fight for human rights and democracy in Vietnam from the U.S.

"No one can defeat her will and dedication," it said.  

Christian Lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, head of the Vietnam-based Brotherhood for Democracy, congratulated Quynh on being freed and arriving in the U.S. 

Dai, a former political prisoner who was sent into exile in Germany in June, said he hopes Quynh would continue her fight for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam.

Another former prisoner of conscience, Bui Thi Minh Hang, called on activists and the international community to pressure Vietnam into freeing jailed rights activist Tran Thi Nga, who she said was suffering from ill-treatment by inmates and officials at Gia Trung prison camp in Gia Lai province in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

Nga, a mother of two, is serving a nine-year prison term for spreading "anti-government propaganda." 

"She has not seen her children or other family for the past three months," Hang said.

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