Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Pro-democracy activists go on trial in Vietnam


Three pro-democracy activists including a US citizen — all linked to a US-based party banned in Vietnam — went on trial yesterday on terrorism charges.

US citizen Nguyen Quoc Quan and local activists Nguyen The Vu and Nguyen Hai stand accused of “inciting riots threatening the national security” of the country, an AFP correspondent said.

The trio, all accused of being members of Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party), were arrested in November after arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, state media said.

Three activists arrested with them — US citizen Leon Truong, French radio journalist Nguyen Thi Thanh Van and Vietnamese national Nguyen Trong Khiem — were released last year following international protests.

Police newspaper Cong An Nhan Dan said the three on trial were assigned by Viet Tan to “conduct a terrorism plan to create social security disorder.”

Police “seized nearly 7,000 reactionary flyers, more than 8,000 envelopes and 3,775 stamps,” when the three were arrested, the newspaper said in its Monday edition.

Viet Tan said they were only “preparing to distribute leaflets promoting democracy through non-violent means.”

In court, Nguyen Quoc Quan and Nguyen Hai admitted to being members of Viet Tan, while Nguyen The Vu said he was helping his friends, but did not belong to the party.

The state-controlled media has repeatedly accused Viet Tan activists of being “terrorists,” but the party says it is “committed to achieving democratic change through peaceful, non-violent means.”

The group also said that “the legal system in Vietnam is entirely under the control of the Vietnamese Communist Party and all decisions by the court are predetermined according to political considerations.”

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