March 16, 2007
Tra Mi, Radio Free Asia
Following the arrests of Father Nguyen Van Ly, attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan and attorney Nguyen Van Dai, one more democracy activist has been arrested by the Vietnamese authorities: Le Quoc Quan who had been permitted by the Vietnamese government to travel to the United States to attend a six-month fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) based in Washington D.C.
After completing the fellowship, Mr. Quan returned to Vietnam and was soon arrested by security police in Ha Noi on March 8, 2007. There has been no official information on the arrest.
Tra Mi [of Radio Free Asia] interviewed a relative of his in Vietnam, an official of NED where he just completed the fellowship, and [Scott Flipse of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom]. Following is the interview with Ms. Hien, Le Quoc Quan’s wife:
Hien: Quan, my husband, was arrested on the evening of March 8. The police came, read the search warrant and then took him away. Three days later, I came to the police precinct; the police interviewed me shortly, and then said that Quan was transferred to the detention center of the Ministry of Public Security.
Since then, I came to the precinct several times to find out the whereabouts of my husband, but have not been able to see him.
Tra Mi: Where is the detention center of the Ministry of Public Security located?
Hien: It is located in Thanh Liet hamlet, Thanh Tri, Ha Noi.
Tra Mi: From the date of the detention have you been in touch with government agencies, been able to see or take care of your husband?
“The police have the search warrant, but not the arrest warrant. I have a copy of the urgent search warrant in which the police suspected that Quan has violated Article 79 of the Penal Code – the crime of overthrowing the People’s Government.” -- Ms. Hien
Hien: Yes, I have submitted letters to request permission to send supplies and rations, but so far I have not received any response.
Tra Mi: How long did the arrest take place after his return from the US?
Hien: We returned on the night of March 4th and the arrest took place on March 8th.
Tra Mi: So he returned to Ha Noi on March 4th?
Tra Mi: Prior to the fellowship has he ever have been summoned by the government for interrogation?
Hien: Just occasionally before, on several times to my knowledge.
Tra Mi: In his daily life has Mr. Quan even been harassed by the government?
Hien: Based on what I know, there were several times but not often. When he returned from the fellowship without having done anything he was arrested when came back from a visit to his home village.
Tra Mi: Based on your opinion what was the reason that led to Mr. Quan’s arrest?
Hien: I was not present when the arrest happened, but the search warrant is based on the suspicion that Quan violated Article 79.
Tra Mi: There was both a search warrant and arrest warrant?
Hien: The police have the search warrant but did not have the arrest warrant. They gave me a copy of the urgent search warrant which stated that the authority is suspicious of Quan violating Article 79 of the Penal Code which is attempting to overthrow the People’s Government.
Tra Mi: Until this point in time, in all of Mr. Quan’s activities, do you think that he has violated Article 79 as stated in the search warrant?
Hien: No, I don’t think so.
Tra Mi: Since the arrest until now, have you contacted the authority to request visitation? Have they answered your request or explained the reason for the denial of visitation?
Hien: Yes I have, and I have requested that if visitation is denied, then the authority must issue an official arrest order. The authority explained that based on Article 85 which states that if the official notice interferes with the investigation, then the government will not issue the official notice. There is no official notice in writing, I heard this from the investigator who also said that Quan is currently being held at the address I previously mentioned.
Tra Mi: What do you plan on doing next? Where would you go to petition for visitation?
Hien: Earlier this evening I have worked with the public security. I hope that Quan would be released later tonight or tomorrow. The police said the first day is volunteered and does not count, next is the temporary detainment for three days issued the first time, then three more days of extension which is six days, today is the seventh day.
Tra Mi: If Mr. Quan is not released tomorrow morning what do you have planned to defend him?
“Quan founded a law firm called ‘Quan and Brothers’ with offices located in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi. Quan said he wanted to be an attorney for the poor. He also said that he wanted to protect the rights of the workers.” -- Ms. Hien
Hien: I am writing to NED to inform them that one of their fellows has been arrested. I want to ask them to ask the [Vietnamese authorities] to release my husband when they don’t have the arrest warrant. Over here, I would seek legal counsel to seek visitation of my husband. I think that there is a mistake. Initially, I don’t think that my husband would not return until now.
Tra Mi: Thank you very much for your time.
Hien: Thank you.