A dissident jailed for criticizing Vietnam’s leadership has been freed and is now in Washington, family friends and a U.S. official said on Tuesday, a rare concession by a country long criticized for its human rights record, Reuters reports:
French-educated lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu left Vietnam on Sunday with his wife after his release three years into a 10-year sentence of both jail and house arrest for conducting “anti-state propaganda”….His release comes as pressure mounts on Vietnam, which won a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2013, to stop intimidating, arresting and jailing critics, bloggers and other dissidents. Activists say such activity has spiked in the past few years.
With his strongly worded calls for a multi-party system and a change in national leadership, Vu, 56, became one of the ruling communist party’s most high-profile critics. He became even more prominent because his father, poet Cu Huy Can, was a former minister and a close associate of Vietnam’s late revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam’s reputation for stamping out free speech has left the U,S, with a challenge to build a case for deeper trade and military ties with its former enemy, an approach aimed at tapping Vietnam’s emerging market potential and tempering the growing influence of its communist neighbor, China, Reuters adds.