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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid