Vietnam grants amnesty to 18,000 prisoners

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Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong answers questions during a press conference on the presidential amnesty decision made to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Vietnam's communist regime in Hanoi on August 28, 2015Image source, AFP
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Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong said prisoners guilty of national security crimes would not be freed

Vietnam says it has granted amnesty to more than 18,000 prisoners to mark the country's 70th anniversary of independence from France.

Thousands convicted of murder or drug-related offences will go free, while 34 foreigners are also among those given amnesty.

However, observers say political prisoners are not expected to be freed.

Tens of thousands of prisoners have been granted presidential amnesties since 2009.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong said no one guilty of "crimes against national security" would be released.

The government also said that the amnesty showed the ruling Communist Party's "humanitarian nature" and would help inmates "become useful citizens".

Human rights groups and some western governments have criticised Vietnam for jailing dissidents, and say more than 100 political activists remain behind bars.