Vietnamese authorities on Wednesday released and deported Vietnamese-American pro-democracy activist Nguyen Quoc Quan after nine months of detention. Quan was arrested [JURIST report] on terrorism charges for planning protests in support of a banned group of US exiles, the Viet Tan [advocacy website]. He was released following diplomatic pressure [AP report] from the US. Vietnam and the US have been attempting to strengthen relations over a common concern over China, but Vietnam's human rights record has been a concern for the US. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland [official profile] welcomed [press briefing transcript] Quan's release stating that there is "no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens abroad." Quan has reunited with his family in Los Angeles since being released.
According to a 2012 report [JURIST report] by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], the Arab Spring may have inspired Vietnamese citizens to combat their oppressive government. However, Vietnam has reacted harshly and has been cracking down on pro-democracy supporters recently. Earlier this month, Vietnam convicted [JURIST report] 14 bloggers associated with Viet Tan of subversion issued prison sentences ranging from 3 to 13 years. In September a court in Vietnam sentenced [JURIST report] a number of bloggers for anti-state propaganda for defaming the Vietnamese government. In August 2011 an appeals court in Vietnam upheld [JURIST report] a seven-year sentence for a prominent rights lawyer.