NEW YORK—PEN American Center welcomes the release of Vietnamese blogger and human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan today, nine months before his scheduled release.

Quan was first detained in December 2012 and sentenced to 30 months in jail and a fine of $59,000 USD on trumped-up charges of tax evasion on October 2, 2013. His conviction was upheld in February 2014 despite international calls for his release. He had been previously attacked and harassed for his writings, which sought to expose human rights abuses within Vietnam.

“The jailing of Le Quoc Quan was a brazen attempt to suppress his works that were critical of Hanoi,” said Karin Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN. “PEN has followed Quan’s case through the years and noticed a pattern of legal harassment by the government against him and other writers and journalists in Vietnam. With at least 16 journalists remaining in jail there, PEN American Center calls on the government of Vietnam to cease their harsh crackdown on individuals who simply exercise their human right to free expression.”

International organizations have long asserted that the charges against Quan were politically motivated in response to his daring exercise of the right to freedom of expression and religion on his blog, despite Vietnam’s history of crackdowns on journalists and writers. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention labeled Quan’s jailing as “a deprivation of liberty result[ing] from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by… the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”—and thus arbitrary—in June 2013.

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Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. www.pen.org

CONTACT
Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: kdkarlekar@pen.org, (646) 779-4822
Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: sedkins@pen.org, (646) 779-4830