Arbitrary detention of Vietnamese HRDs such as Le Quoc Quan

January 4, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), reports the arbitrary detention of Mr. Le Quoc Quan, a human rights lawyer and blogger.

On December 27, 2012, Mr. Le Quoc Quan was arrested by the police in Hanoi while dropping off his daughter at school. The police also searched his office and home and confiscated some documents. The police told his family that he would be charged under Article 161 of the Criminal Code, which relates to tax evasion. If condemned, he risks three years in prison and a heavy fine. Mr. Le Quoc Quan, who began a hunger strike on December 28, is currently detained incommunicado in Hoa Lo Prison No. 1. Neither his lawyer nor his family have been able to visit him to date.

Mr. Le Quoc Quan’s arrest follows a recent order by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that authorities renew the fight against anyone using the Internet to “defame and spread propaganda against the State”.Mr. Le Quoc Quan has been harassed constantly since 2007 by the Vietnamese authorities because of his human rights activities. On October 3, 2012, some 50 security police and plain-clothed militia forced entry into the head office of VietNam Credit in Hanoi and its branch office in Saigon. The firm belongs to Mr. Le Quoc Quan and his two brothers. Police seized files and documents belonging to the firm, assaulted the staff and detained the brothers for interrogation. In addition, on August 18, 2012, Mr. Le Quoc Quan was brutally beaten by two unidentified men with iron bars outside his home in Hanoi.

The Observatory recalls that allegations of tax evasion have previously been levelled against human rights defenders. Blogger Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, founding member of the Club of Free Journalists, was initially jailed for tax evasion but then sentenced in September 2012 to 12 years in jail for spreading anti-State propaganda under Article 88 of the Criminal Code, along with two other bloggers and members of the Club of Free Journalists.

via Viet Nam: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Le Quoc Quan / January 4, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

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