HANOI, Sept 21, 2015:
A prominent Vietnamese blogger who was jailed after she wrote about corruption in the Communist country’s police and judiciary has been released and left the country, the US embassy said on Monday.
Ta Phong Tan, a former police officer, flew to the States after her release.
“We welcome the decision by Vietnamese authorities to release Ta Phong Tan,” Terry White, the spokesman for Washington’s embassy in Hanoi, told AFP.
“She decided to travel to the United States after her release from prison,” he added.
Vietnamese authorities have yet to make a statement on her release.
Ta Phong Tan, 47, was jailed for 10 years in 2012 under the broad charge of publishing “anti-state propaganda”.
She had used her blog to highlight kickbacks and human rights abuses within the country’s police force and court system.
Corruption remains a major issue that angers many Vietnamese and locals routinely complain of having to pay bribes both to officials and in business.
Ta Minh Tu, Ta Phong Tan’s sister, said she would seek medical treatment in the US for arthritis and high blood pressure.
“Her release was achieved thanks to strong pressure from the United States,” she told AFP by phone.
Ta Phong Tan was among scores of bloggers and journalists who have been detained or prosecuted by the Vietnamese authorities.
Vietnam’s Communist Party, which has run the unified country since 1975, is sensitive to any public criticism of its rule.
The one-party state is regularly denounced by rights groups and Western governments for its hardline stance on any issues concerning press freedom or human rights.
Vietnam bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run.
US embassy spokesman White said Washington called on Hanoi to “allow all Vietnamese to express their political views without fear of retribution”.
Human Rights Watch welcomed Ta Phong Tan’s release.
But Phil Robertson, deputy director of the group’s Asia division, accused Hanoi of employing a “cynical practice” of releasing dissidents “into forced exile, with immediate departure from the country being the price of their freedom”.
Many of those arrested for blogging have written about corruption, human rights abuses and Vietnam’s often terse relationship with China.
A number of other high-profile bloggers remain in custody, awaiting trial.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Vietnam is currently holding at least 34 bloggers in prison.