The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media

92 The River Rd - Revesby NSW 2212
Tel: (02) 9773 0933
Fax: (02) 9773 3998


Contact: Fr. Paul Van Chi Chu
Tel: (02) 9773 0933
Mob: 0410 552 650

Sydney, May 18.The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media would like to voice our deep concern on the arrest of Le Cong Dinh, a Catholic attorney who's well known for his role in defending pro-democracy and human rights activists and a concerned citizen on a number of national issues.

The announcement of Le Cong Dinh's arrest on June 13, 2009 has been a shock to many at home and abroad. According to what Vietnam police had said on state media, Le, a Vietnam's leading attorney and a former vice president of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, was accused of violating Article 88 of Vietnam's criminal code, which prohibits conducting propaganda against the government, a crime which carries up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan said Dinh used the trial to "take advantage" of his work as a defense lawyer and "propagandize against the regime and distort Vietnam's constitution and laws."
Authorities also accused Dinh of exploiting a national debate over an expansion of bauxite mining in Vietnam's Central Highlands to "incite people against the Communist Party and the government," according to the official Vietnam News Agency.
The fact of the matter is Le Cong Dinh has committed no crime as the police and state media has portrayed him as. In fact, not long ago he was praised by the state-owned Tuoi Tre magazine as top-notched lawyer on International Commercial law who had won numerous awards for representing his Vietnamese clients’ high profile clients such as Vietnam Airlines or Vietnamese catfish farmers in a trade dispute with U.S. fishermen.

Le also chose to represent two prominent prisoners of conscience Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan- for allegedly distributing anti-government documents- at their court of appeal, arguing that Article 88, under which the two were charged, is unconstitutional and contravenes international human rights treaties that Viet Nam has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should therefore be reviewed. He also represented Nguyen Hoang Hai, a blogger known as Dieu Cay, who was tried in September 2008 on politically motivated criminal charges for writing critical articles and calling for human rights.
Le Cong Dinh has also been an outspoken critic of recent bauxite-exploitation plan in the Central Highlands which had been publicly challenged by a majority of Vietnamese intellectuals, former high ranking officials as well as concerned domestic overseas Vietnamese.
Due to widespread discussion on how the plan would be posing serious dangers to both environment and national security, more people are searching for an answer as why the government would keep something even the Prime Minister categorized as "major national policy" as this one a top-secret for years without presenting it to the Congress!

Last but not least, Le also called for political pluralism in Vietnam.

We as many others strongly believe that Le Cong Dinh has been under arrest for peacefully exercising freedom of speech and freedom to represent pro democracy and human rights clients.

We therefore would like to join the chorus of freedom lovers and human rights activists in express our support for Le Cong Dinh and his family during this difficult time. We also call for Vietnam government to release and dismiss all charges against him. Only by doing so, this government can show its citizens and the world community how committed it would be in upholding the calling on the authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and association, in line with human rights treaties Viet Nam has ratified.

Fr. Paul Van Chi Chu
Tel: (02) 9773 0933
Mob: 0410 552 650

Mons. Peter Tai Van Nguyen
Director of Radio Veritas Asia
Buick St. North Fairview,
Quezon City, Philippines
P.O. Box 2642

Fr. John Nghi Tran
Director of VietCatholic News Agency
435 Berkeley Ave
Claremont, CA 91711, USA
Tel (909) 581-8888

Fr. Joachim Viet-Chau Nguyen Duc
Director of People Of God Magazine in America
PO Box 1419 Gretna,
LA 70053-5440, USA.

Fr. Anthony Quang Huu Nguyen
Director of People Of God Magazine in Australia
715 Sydney Rd. Brunswick Vic 3056

Fr. Stephen Luu Thuong Bui
Director of People Of God Magazine in Europe
Magazine Catholique
Katholische Monatszeitschrift
Monthly Catholic Magazine

Fr. Paul Van-Chi Chu
Vice Director of VietCatholic News Agency
92 The River Rd - Revesby
NSW 2212