- Created on Monday, 30 April 2012 13:17
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A pro-democracy activist has been ordered detained in Vietnam for at least four months, having been charged with organizing terrorist activities, state media reported.
Nguyen Quoc Quan, a California resident who holds a U.S. passport, was arrested April 17 at Ho Chi Min City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. But news of his arrest only became public Sunday, in reports from state-run news organizations and a plea from Viet Tan, the advocacy group for which he works.
According to a report in the Communist Youth Union-run Tuoi Tre news, "police caught (Quan) bringing documents on terrorist training to allegedly incite demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City as well as other provinces and cities" during festivities set for Monday and Tuesday marking the reunification of North and South Vietnam and May Day.
Vietnam's Security Ministry determined that Quan planned to hold a "demonstration and terrorist activities planned by ... Viet Tan," said a report in the state-run Vietnam News Agency.
Quan is being "temporarily detained for four months for further investigation" after having "admitted to his involvement in the criminal activities," according to the same VNA report.
The Viet Tan group -- which has offices in California, Japan, Australia and France -- says on its website it is "committed to peaceful, nonviolent struggle" to defend human rights and promote democracy despite what it calls a "backward dictatorship."
The government's terrorism accusations against the 58-year-old Quan is "completely fabricated and has no basis," Viet Tan said in its statement.
"The detention of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan is the latest example of the Vietnamese Communist Party's ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders," the group said.
A former high school teacher in Vietnam who earned a doctorate degree from North Carolina State University, Quan is "a long-time democracy activist and member of Viet Tan," according to the organization.
This is not the first time he's been detained in Vietnam.
He was released in 2008 after serving six months in prison for a terrorism conviction, according to Tuoi Tre news. His advocacy group, Viet Tan, said in that case he'd actually been detained in November 2007 "for distributing materials promoting nonviolent tactics for civil resistance."
After his release, Quan "continued his pro-democracy work," according to Viet Tan.
The group said that a representative from the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City visited Quan at a Ministry of Public Security detention center on Friday. Quan "affirmed his innocence of any criminal offense" during that meeting.