News / Asia

Vietnam Jails Catholic Activist for Tax Evasion

Supporters of Le Quoc Quan marched in Hanoi, Oct. 2, 2013, causing traffic problems until police intervened. (Marianne Brown for VOA)
Supporters of Le Quoc Quan marched in Hanoi, Oct. 2, 2013, causing traffic problems until police intervened. (Marianne Brown for VOA)
Marianne Brown
One of Vietnam's leading dissidents, Catholic lawyer Le Quoc Quan, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for tax evasion, a charge critics say is politically motivated.

About 500 people marched through Hanoi Wednesday morning causing traffic snarls for over an hour until they were blocked by police.

Wearing matching t-shirts and holding palm leaves as symbols of peace, the group showed support for Quan, one of the country’s most prominent activists and bloggers.

Quan, 42, ran a consultancy company and in his spare time wrote a blog under his own name which reported on civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom.
Supporters of Le Quoc Quan march in Hanoi, Oct. 2, 2013. (Marianne Brown for VOA)Supporters of Le Quoc Quan march in Hanoi, Oct. 2, 2013. (Marianne Brown for VOA)
On Wednesday, he was found guilty of evading $30,000 of corporate income tax in 2008. Aside from the sentence, Quan was told to pay a fine of $56,000. His chief accountant, Pham Hong Phuong, 31, was jailed for eight months.

One protester, who gave his name as Khang, said he believed Quan was a patriot and that the charges against him were false.

A limited number of observers was allowed to watch the court proceedings from an adjacent room via a closed circuit television which was frequently cut off. One reporter for a foreign news agency said he was prevented from accessing the courtroom for over an hour after the trial started, despite having an official pass.

During the trial, Quan said he was the victim of political acts and that he knew he was innocent under the eyes of God.

The U.S. embassy in Hanoi released a statement shortly after the trial saying it was “deeply concerned” about the verdict. The embassy said the use of tax laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views was “disturbing.”

Quan was arrested in December of last year after months of what he described as increasing intimidation by security forces.

His youngest brother, Le Dinh Quan, was arrested in October, also charged with tax evasion.

His middle brother, Le Quoc Quyet, said authorities were targeting his family.

“They hate my elder brother," he said. "They hate his activities, they don’t want my family to be strong. They want to attack my family.”

A week before his brother’s trial, Quyet said police detained him and several activists while they were drinking tea at the house of blogger Tuong Thuy.

“They opened the door and they broke the door of Mr. Tuong Thuy and they addressed me and along the way they beat me, hit me," Quyet said. "After a medical examination, the doctor told me one my ribs was hurt.”

Quan became known as a dissident in 2007 when he was arrested days after returning to Vietnam from the United States where he had spent several months as a fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the U.S. Congress.

In 2011, he attended a series of protests in Hanoi against Chinese actions in territory also claimed by Vietnam, the Paracel and Spratly islands, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves.

His trial was originally scheduled for July 9, but the day before the trial the People’s Court of Hanoi announced the presiding judge had fallen ill. Some observers attributed the date change to an invitation by U.S. President Barack Obama to his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang to visit the White House.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nelson from: Áustralia
October 02, 2013 4:18 PM
God blessed "cơm Bình dân"
President Ronald Reagan:
How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin.
And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.


by: Cơm Bình Dân
October 02, 2013 12:37 PM
The men in the picture were hanging posters calling for releasing Quan. They did the wrong thing. Quan was charged of tax invasion. Vietnamese authorities had proper evidence to prove him guilty. The court opened lawfully. What did these men in the picture do? Did they really realize the root of the problem that the authorities did not mention anything about political aspect? Their action led to traffic jams, made civilians feel annoyed. I condemn men who saw themselves as Quan's supporters and did such ridiculous action.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid