Dissident Vietnam blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ released, relocated to the US

Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, center, known by her pen name Mother Mushroom, attends her appeal trial at a local people’s court on November 30, 2017 in the central coastal city of Nha Trang. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Dissident Vietnam blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ released, relocated to the US

  • Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was freed from jail Wednesday and put on a flight en route to the US
  • Officials did not give an official reason for relocating her

HANOI: A dissident Vietnamese blogger known by the pen name ‘Mother Mushroom’ was on her way to the United States Wednesday after being released from prison where she was serving 10 years for anti-state propaganda, multiple sources said.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was freed from jail Wednesday and put on a flight en route to the US to join her children and mother, a US embassy source, friends, and a Vietnam official said.
“Quynh was sent to the US earlier today,” a Vietnamese government official confirmed, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Family friend Nguyen Lai said on Facebook “congratulations” to Quynh, adding she would soon be in a “free country.”
Quynh, one of Vietnam’s most well-known activists whose recognizable pen name “Me Nam” comes from her daughter’s nickname “mushroom,” was jailed in June 2017 in a case that drew ire from the US, the EU and the UN.
She is an outspoken critic of Vietnam’s one-party state and gained notoriety with her writing about the environment, politics and deaths in police custody — a no-go topic in communist Vietnam.
Quynh became a cause celebre and received an International Woman of Courage Award in 2017, presented to her in absentia by US First Lady Melania Trump.
She was arrested in October 2016 after visiting a fellow activist in prison and even from jail she remained steadfast in her opposition to the communist government.
Her family said she held several hunger strikes in jail, most recently in July when she stopped eating for two weeks, according to the 88 Project, a political prisoner watchdog.
Earlier this year she was moved from a jail in her home province of Khanh Hoa to a prison hundreds of kilometers away, a move her relatives objected to because it made it harder to visit her.
Officials did not give an official reason for relocating her.
Quynh’s daughter also wrote an emotional letter addressed to Melania Trump.
Washington has developed strong ties with Vietnam to counterbalance a rising China and has come under fire for putting issues of free expression and human rights on the backburner, especially in Vietnam.
But Quynh’s release came as US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited the country for the second time this year, fueling speculation of a goodwill gesture from Vietnam’s leadership.


Asian Cup Media Committee hits out at BeIN Sports presenter over political comments

Updated 17 January 2019
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Asian Cup Media Committee hits out at BeIN Sports presenter over political comments

  • BeIN Sports presenter denounced for talking about politics during the Iran-Iraq clash.
  • Asian Cup Media Committee call on AFC to take appropriate action to separate politics from sports.

LONDON: The Asian Cup Media Committee has denounced the behavior of a beIN Sports presenter during Wednesday’s Group D clash between Iraq and Iran for bringing politics into sports while also commenting on Thursday’s Saudi Arabia-Qatar encounter.
Mentioning politics while broadcasting is against FIFA’s laws and regulations as well as the governing principles of the International Olympic Committee that prohibit misuse of sports for political purposes, the committee said.
The Committee disputed the presenter’s claims on the alleged absence of Qatari fans during the championship, citing the Qatari media delegation’s statements to AFP that the Qatari official delegation did not encounter any problems or obstacles during the championship.
In addition to that the committee also cited the Asian Football Confederation’s statements that showed up the Qatari channel presenter’s allegations of on the absence of Qatari fans as false.
The Committee affirmed that all efforts were being made during the championship to ensure the smooth attendance of fans supporting their national teams at the tournament taking place across the UAE.
The Committee called on the AFC to take appropriate action to separate politics from sports, affirming that it reserved the right to take all necessary legal action in collaboration with authorities concerned against the channel and its presenter.