Vietnam said Friday it is releasing 5,219 prisoners, including an unspecified number of American expatriates, as part of a general amnesty.
The list of inmates also included two dissidents whose cases had been taken up by the European Parliament, Nguyen Canh Dinh, chairman of the president's office, said at a news conference.It was not immediately clear if some prisoners already have been released, but a spokesman for the Police Ministry Prisons Management Department said all would freed before National Day, next Wednesday.
This is the fourth such amnesty this decade and by far the largest release.
Officials gave no details about the Americans on the list. Vietnam has said it repatriated all POWs at the end of the war, so it appears the Americans were imprisoned on criminal charges.
The U.S. Embassy said it could not divulge who was being released or even how many.
People sentenced to death were not eligible for amnesty unless their sentences already had been commuted to life imprisonment.