Vietnam has declared a US-based activist group a terrorist organization and warned that any Vietnamese found to be involved with the group would be regarded as co-conspirators and punished.
The government said that the California-based Viet Tan, or Vietnam Reform Party, had recruited and trained operatives to use weapons and explosives.
Vietnam has long been sensitive to the activities of Viet Tan, calling the group “reactionaries,” but the announcement carried on state television was the first time it had designated it a terrorist organization.
Vietnam’s police-run Ministry of Public Security said Viet Tan had trained members in militant activities, kidnapping and murder and arranged for operatives to sneak into Vietnam to organize protests and instigate violence.
The group said in a statement that the government feared organized opposition and the police were “regurgitating baseless propaganda” to try to deter Vietnamese from “peaceful political advocacy.”
The US Department of State said Viet Tan was not listed as a terrorist entity under US law.
Viet Tan has long been an annoyance for the Vietnamese Communist Party that has ruled since the US-backed South Vietnam government fell to northern forces in 1975, leading to an exodus of more than 1 million people, mostly to the US.
It was founded by exiled remnants of the deposed Saigon government in 1982 and states as its mission to “overcome dictatorship and build the foundation for a sustainable democracy.”
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