Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Dissident Vietnamese blogger 'Mother Mushroom' released

Vietnam Blogger Activist'Mother Mushroom Released From Jail Sent To US Mother Mushroom: Vietnam releases well-known dissident into US exile
Pablo Mccormick | 18 October, 2018, 18:53

Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Mother Mushroom", was released from prison on Wednesday and left Vietnam on a flight to the United States, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

"Mother Mushroom departed Vietnam today for the U.S.", one source told Reuters.

The agency said she would join her children and mother in the United States.

The high-profile Vietnamese dissident and writer known as Mother Mushroom has arrived in the U.S. with her children and mother after being released from jail.

"My mother is a good person and she always wants to protect other people", Nam told the ABC previous year.

Months later, Quynh's young daughter penned an emotional letter to Mrs Trump appealing for her mother to be freed.

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News of the release came shortly after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left Vietnam.

"In prior conversations Ms. Quynh and her family clearly stated to US officials that she wanted to come to the United States if released from prison", Reuters news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the department as saying.

It is rare but not unheard of for political prisoners to be released early from jail in Vietnam, a one-party state whose conservative leadership has waged a brutal crackdown on critics over the past two years, drawing ire from Western allies and rights groups.

Vietnam's one-party communist regime frequently jails its critics. "While Mother Mushroom is no longer imprisoned, the condition for her release was exile and there are over one hundred people languishing in jail because they peacefully spoke their mind - in public, on blogs or on Facebook", Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's regional director for East and South East Asia.

"After numerous efforts, the family of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was reunited in a free country", her friend Nguyen Tin wrote on his Facebook page.

A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately comment when asked about the timing of the release.

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Phil Robertson, from Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Mother Mushroom's release laid bare Vietnam's methods for dealing with dissenters.

In June, Vietnam's Communist authorities released prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and exiled him and another dissident to Germany.

"No one should forget that Vietnam is still one of the most repressive states in Southeast Asia, with more than 100 political prisoners behind bars for speaking their minds, organizing associations outside of government control, and holding peaceful protests", he added.

"We urge Vietnamese authorities to stop harassing independent bloggers, who represent the only alternative voice to the country's otherwise state-controlled media, and allow all journalists to report without fear of reprisal such as trumped up anti-state charges", the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said at the time.

A blogger and environmental activist, Quynh was among 13 women to receive an International Women of Courage Award past year.

Vietnam has stepped up a crackdown on dissent over the past two years with dozens of activists and bloggers put on trial for national security law-related offenses.

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