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Arrest of Vietnamese dissident draws fire

(WAN/IFEX) - The following is a WAN press release:

**Updates IFEX alerts of 12 March and 11 March 1999**

Paris, 16 March 1999
For immediate release

Arrest of Vietnamese Dissident Draws Fire

The World Association of Newspapers has called on Vietnam to release
dissident writer and scientist Nguyen Thanh Giang, whose criticism of
Communist Party has led to constant harassment by the authorities.

"This is not the first time Mr. Giang has been harassed for peacefully
advocating free expression of opinion in Vietnam," WAN said in a letter
Vietnamese President Duc Luong. "This arrest and the previous
of Mr. Giang constitute a flagrant breach of numerous international
conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights which Vietnam has signed."

Mr. Giang, a distinguished writer and geologist who has written several
articles critical of the Communist Party, was arrested on 4 March for
possessing "anti-socialist propaganda." He has not been seen since his
arrest and no formal charges against him have been made public.

"We respectfully but strongly urge you to order the immediate release of
Giang and to ensure that this writer continues his work unharassed,"
the letter to the Vietnamese President, signed by WAN President Bengt

The United States has also demanded the release of the 63-year-old Mr.
Giang, prompting the Vietnamese government to denounce what it termed
interference in the country's internal affairs.

The Paris-based WAN, the global association of the newspaper industry,
defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 15,000
newspapers and its membership includes 57 national newspaper publisher
associations, individual newspaper executives in 90 countries, 17 news
agencies and seven regional press groups.

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