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Bloggers freed after questioning on ´national security breaches´

Updated: September 15, 2009 11:01 AM GMT
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A blogger who criticized controversial mining projects and is a Catholic has been released by government authorities after being held on charges of violating national security laws. Another two men, one of whom is preparing to become a Catholic, were also released after questioning on similar charges. Local sources reported that Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who published her Internet blog under the pseudonym "Me Nam" (mother of mushrooms), was freed from a local police station on the afternoon of Sept. 12. Public security officers detained Quynh, 31, in her native Nha Trang, central Vietnam, early this month and accused her of "violating national security laws." The Catholic woman had criticized government policy concerning relations with China and two bauxite mining projects in the central highlands. Opponents say the Chinese-run projects will damage the environment. Earlier, in July, security officials questioned Quynh for several hours about her wearing a green T-shirt with slogans against the mining projects. The mother of one child reportedly said she had to promise to end her blog before her recent release. Nguyen Phuong Nga, Ministry of Foreign Affairs´ spokesperson, said during a press conference on Sept. 11 that security officials had also released Bui Thanh Hieu, a popular blogger who wrote under the pseudonym "Nguoi Buon Gio" (wind trader), and Pham Doan Trang, a reporter from state-run VietnamNet, an electronic newspaper. According to local sources, Hieu was freed on Sept. 5 and Trang the next day. Hieu, 37, a Ha Noi resident, has been attending Church courses in preparation for baptism as a Catholic. Public security officers detained him on Aug 27, reportedly for criticizing the government´s social and religious policies. They confiscated his private computer and searched his house. Trang, 31, reportedly was detained at the end of August after she produced reports on sovereignty claims concerning the South China Sea and the Paracel Islands, subject of a dispute between Vietnam and China. The foreign affairs spokesperson said the three were detained for questioning since they showed "signs of undermining national security."

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