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Vietnam dissident in rights pledge

A pro-democracy activist who was released from prison in Vietnam and deported to the United States has vowed to continue her campaign for human rights in her homeland.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, 50, arrived in San Francisco with her teenage daughter on Thursday, a day after Vietnam released the dissident writer on humanitarian grounds after she spent more than a year in prison in Hanoi.

She said she was thrilled to be free and grateful to the US government and overseas Vietnamese community for advocating for her release.

"Most definitely I will continue to write and advocate for human rights," Thuy said through a translator. "I will use my experience in jail to expose the human rights abuses in Vietnam, both in greater society and within the prisons."

US Embassy spokesman Beau Miller praised Vietnam for releasing her, saying: "We continue to urge the government of Vietnam to respect internationally recognised human rights."

Thuy, a journalist and novelist, is among a small circle of dissidents in Vietnam who have promoted a multi-party system, which is not tolerated by the Communist government.

Thuy has been active in the dissident community since 2006, when she started organisations to help workers and assist farmers whose land had been confiscated by the government. Thuy worked for many years in Vietnam's state-controlled media before writing for an online pro-democracy newspaper and publishing a blog.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch last year honoured Thuy and five other Vietnamese writers with its annual Hellman/Hammet award for their courage in the face of political persecution.

Last year, Thuy and her husband, Do Ba Tan, were convicted of assaulting two people in October 2009, after one of them complained that Tan's motorbike was blocking the alley outside the couple's home in Hanoi. She was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and he received a two-year suspended sentence.

Thuy accused the authorities of fabricating the charges to punish her for her political activities, saying: "The case against me was completely set up by the government. The reason for my arrest is because the government wanted to silence me. Because they wanted to avoid a political case, they invented a criminal case."

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