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Phuket Revolutionaries 'Plotted Overthrow of Vietnam'

Sunday, June 14, 2009
A LAWYER has been arrested for allegedly conspiring with others while on a visit to Phuket to plot a revolution and overthrow the government of Vietnam.

Not just any tourist, police said Le Cong Dinh had ''capitalised on his role as a lawyer to carry out his reactionary plot'' and now faces up to 20 years' jail.

Among other charges, the lawyer has been accused of communicating with the British Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Free Asia while also writing to websites set up by overseas subversive organisations.

Dinh was taken into custody on Saturday by Ministry of Public Security police who raided a law office in Ho Chi Minh City, according to one online news report.

Dinh was ''colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese State,'' the state-run Voice of Vietnam reported.

Several other state-controlled news outlets in the Communist country also reported the arrest.

The online news site Thanh Nien said that Dinh had used the opportunity of defending pro-democracy activists to ''damage and distort the constitution and other laws of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.''

Major-general Hoang Cong Tu, head of the Investigation Agency at the Ministry of Public Security, said Dinh, a former deputy head of the city's Bar Association, had ''connived with overseas subversives to publish documents distorting the socio-economic policies of the Vietnamese government.''

Tu, who presented a media briefing after the arrest, said Dinh and his accomplices had also libeled Vietnam's top leaders, particularly Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in published documents.

Dinh was also a key member of a US-based subversive group led by Nguyen Sy Binh.

Police allege that in March, Dinh went to Phuket in Thailand to meet with Binh and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, another group member, to plan the overthrow of the Vietnamese government in 2010.

Dinh and several other subversives had written a document they called the ''New Constitution'' to replace the current constitution of Vietnam, the police said.

Dinh, 41, received his law degree from Tulane University in the US in 2000, the report on Thanh Nien says.

He became known for defending Vietnamese catfish firms in an antidumping lawsuit filed by the US Catfish Farmers of America several years ago.

He married Miss Vietnam 1998, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Khanh, in 2004.

Since 2006, Dinh had communicated with the BBC and Radio Free Asia websites while also writing to websites set up by overseas subversive organisations including ''Phong Trao Dan Chu Viet Nam'' (Vietnam Democracy Movement), ''Viet Tan'' (Vietnam Reform), ''Chan Troi Moi'' (New Horizon), ''Thong Luan'' (Thorough Discussion), or ''Tu Do Dan Chu'' (Democratic Freedom), the police said.

He sent documents that contained distorted information on the Vietnamese government and its leaders, said investigators.

Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, general director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based One Connection Internet Joint Stock Company, was arrested on May 24 for spreading propaganda against the state and illegally providing phone-to-phone services to Vietnam from abroad.

Dinh also had close links with the Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform) Party, a US-based antigovernment group busted in Vietnam in 2007, according to investigators.

By defending several subversives including Nguyen Quoc Quan, Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, or Nguyen Van Hai, who had been expelled from Vietnam or jailed for spreading propaganda against the state, Dinh had conveyed distorted information about the constitution and law of Vietnam, the police said.

Article 88 of the Vietnam Criminal Code stipulates that those convicted of spreading propaganda against the state could be jailed for three to 20 years depending on the seriousness of the crime.

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