US asks Vietnam to explain charges against its detained citizens

US asks Vietnam to explain charges against its detained citizens

Hanoi: The US Ambassador has said that he has seen no evidence linking four detained US citizens to terrorism and called on the Vietnamese government to explain their arrests.

“To date, we have received no formal notification of the charges against these individuals. We have seen no information that would support the charges of terrorism against these individuals as suggested by the local media," said Michael Michalak, US ambassador.

Vietnamese authorities arrested US citizens Nguyen Quoc Quan and Truong Van Ba on 17 November and Nguyen Thi Thinh and Le Van Phan on 23 November.

Quan and Ba were among a group of six people detained in Ho Chi Minh City who were circulating leaflets for Viet Tan, a California-based pro-democracy group, considered as a terrorist organization by the the Vietnamese government.

“We have seen no evidence that Viet Tan is a terrorist organization, if there is evidence that this group is engaged in terrorist activities, I would like to see it," said he.

The Vietnamese government has not announced formal charges against any of the detainees. But according to Vietnamese media reports, authorities were investigating Quan and Ba for terrorism.

Thinh and Phan were detained after authorities allegedly found a weapon in their luggage when they arrived at the Ho Chi Minh City airport on 23 November, reported media.

A government spokesman has said the two were detained for allegedly bringing arms into the country.

During her interview with US Embassy officials, Thinh denied that there was a weapon in her luggage, informed the US Ambassador.

Viet Tan claims that it promotes peaceful democratic change in Vietnam. The group said that the six people arrested in Ho Chi Minh City were circulating pamphlets promoting nonviolent political change.

“The United States will protest any actions taken to silence those engaged in the peaceful expression of political views," Michalak said.

Vietnamese authorities have said that Quan entered Vietnam with a forged Cambodian passport, a violation of Vietnamese law. All of those arrested are of Vietnamese descent.