Vietnam grants amnesty to more than 4,000 prisoners

HANOI: Vietnam has granted amnesty to more than 4,000 prisoners, including one sentenced to five years in jail for a national security-related crime.

Giang Son, deputy chairman of the President's Office, told reporters at a joint press conference Wednesday that 4,384 inmates were granted amnesty under two directives signed by President Tran Dai Quang.

"The amnesty once again reflects the policy of leniency of our party and State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the humane tradition of our nation," Son said.

They will be released from their prisons starting Thursday. One of the prisoners is Bui Xuan Kim who was jailed for national security-related crime, according to Senior Lieutenant Police General Nguyen Van Thanh.

Kim has served three years of his sentence for organising people to flee to neighbouring Cambodia.

International human rights groups, the US government and some other Western governments have urged Vietnamese government to release all prisoners of conscience jailed for peacefully expressing their views, but Hanoi says only those who broke the law are locked up.

Fourteen foreigners will also be released, according to Vice Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc. They include nine from China, three from Laos and one each from South Korea and Australia.