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Vietnam allows second blogger to leave jail

February 12, 2015

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese authorities have released a second blogger jailed more than two months ago for posting comments deemed critical of the Communist Party in a rare gesture as the country prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which is often an occasion for prisoner amnesties.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City released Hong Le Tho, 65, pending an investigation into his writings, according to a prosecutor in the southern commercial hub who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He declined to give details.

That comes on the heels of the release of Nguyen Quang Lap, who is partially paralyzed, on Wednesday. He said he was released on medical parole but is still being investigated for allegedly spreading propaganda against the government.

Lap, 58, often reposts other bloggers’ political and social writings critical of the government. He was jailed in early December, and his wife sent a letter to police requesting the medical parole, saying he had suffered brain injuries in a 2001 traffic accident that paralyzed the left side of his body and he needed family members to help with his daily needs.

State-run Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Maj. Gen. Le Dong Phong, Ho Chi Minh City’s chief security investigator, as saying that police decided to put Lap under house arrest because of his “sincere confession” to having committed illegal acts.

Tho was arrested in November, and police said then that he had posted “online articles with bad content and false information that discredit and create distrust among people about state agencies, social agencies and citizens.”

International human rights groups and some Western governments, including the United States, have criticized Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi says that only law breakers are put behind bars.

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