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Leading Vietnamese Pro-Democracy Activist Released on Bail

Vietnam's state-controlled media say a leading pro-democracy activist has been released on bail, one day after his arrest on charges of seeking to overthrow the government.

Published reports Tuesday said 69-year-old Nguyen Dan Que was released late Sunday because he is in poor health and has cooperated with police. They said authorities plan to summon Que for further questioning as their investigation continues.

Que was arrested Saturday at his home in Ho Chi Minh City, shortly after giving interviews to Western news organizations, including VOA's Vietnamese service. Police said they found thousands of anti-government documents on his computer, some of which called for a public uprising like those sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

A Human Rights Watch spokesman monitoring the situation tells VOA the agreement granting Que's release allows him to go home at night, but requires him to return to daytime police custody and questioning.

Phil Robertson, HRW's deputy Asia director, described Que as "the number one scapegoat" in a government plan to intimidate cyber dissidents and other Vietnamese activists demanding land reforms and expanded religious freedoms.

Listen to the full interview with Phil Robertson

In the VOA interview conducted earlier this month, Que said the Middle East uprisings were inspiring Vietnamese to demand increased human rights and democracy.

Que also authored an opinion piece last week in the U.S. newspaper The Washington Post, criticizing what he says is Hanoi's disregard for human rights and international law.

In that essay, he chastised police for their treatment last month of U.S. Embassy official Christian Marchant, who was injured when he tried to visit a dissident Roman Catholic priest in the city of Hue.

Que, is a physician by training and a 1995 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. He has spent most of his life pushing for political reform in Communist Vietnam, serving a total of three prison terms, says Janice Beanland, a researcher with Amnesty International's Southeast Asia team.

Listen to the full interview with Janice Beanland