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Vietnam president grants amnesty to 8,000 prisoners

[JURIST] Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet [Nhan Dan profile] granted amnesty to 8,066 prisoners, officials from the President's Office said Tuesday. The prisoners, who are expected to be released over the next two days, include 11 individuals convicted of national security crimes. Tuesday's pardons are part of a regular series of presidential amnesties that have freed approximately 80,000 prisoners since 2000.

Vietnam has been criticized for its political persecution of pro-democracy dissidents. In June, the Vietnamese government released pro-democracy dissidents [JURIST report] ahead of Triet's June visit to the United States. Dissidents are often charged with violating Article 88 of the Vietnamese criminal code, which prohibits the dissemination of anti-government "propaganda." In May, two Vietnamese human rights lawyers were sentenced [JURIST report] to five years and four prison terms respectively for promoting democratic reforms. In March, a Catholic priest received an eight-year prison sentence [JURIST report] for communicating with pro-democracy activists and distributing anti-government documents. AP has more.

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