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Statement by The SEA Media Legal Defense Network on Le Cong Dinh


The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network views the arrest of attorney and media freedom advocate Le Cong Dinh by Vietnamese authorities as an affront to legitimate and lawful media defense and a blatant violation of his right to freedom of expression. Mr. Dinh was arrested on 13 June 2009 on charges relating to his defense of pro-democracy activists and for his use of the Internet to express his views. The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network also notes that his telephone and e-mails were monitored in this respect.

The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network condemns the arrest and monitoring of telephone and e-mails. Further, Mr. Dinh was working lawfully as an attorney within the Vietnamese legal system and his right to free expression is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Law norms, which should be upheld and respected at all times.

Mr. Dinh has been charged under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, which accuses him of acting against state interests by distributing “anti-state propaganda” and he faces up to 20 years imprisonment. The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network also condemns the failure by Vietnamese authorities to respect Mr Dinh’s professional obligation in providing legal counsel to the pro-democracy activists in accordance with Vietnam’s own laws.

The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network now asks the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release Mr Dinh. Further, as a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, American Bar Association, Vietnam’s Representative Council, the Asia Pacific Bar Association and the South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network, Mr. Dinh must be granted full and unrestricted access to his legal representatives, family and documents. The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network also calls upon the Vietnamese authorities to allow the international legal community to monitor all court proceedings involving Mr. Dinh in this respect, so as to hopefully attest that Mr Dinh will be accorded a fair trial

About the SOUTH EAST ASIA MEDIA LEGAL DEFENSE NETWORK

Founded in 2007, the South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network is the first regional network of lawyers dedicated to the defense of a free media in South East Asia and the training of legal professionals for that purpose. The South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network consists of lawyers and media advocates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. For more information, please contact Mr H R Dipendra, Coordinator, South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network at h.r.dipendra@gmail.com

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