Vietnamese police have detained eight people, including citizens of the United States, France and Thailand, as part of an investigation of ‘terrorism crimes’, state-run newspapers reported on Thursday.
Earlier this week, communist-run Vietnam’s official police press said five were being held, including three Vietnamese-born foreign nationals, whom a US-based opposition group described as democracy activists.
The government has arrested about 30 political activists this year and put some of them on trial for ‘spreading propaganda against the state’, a criminal offence in Vietnam.
Thursday’s reports linked six people arrested on November 17 and November 20 with two others detained at HCM City airport on November 23 for being in possession of a handgun and bullets.
The outlawed opposition group Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party) rejected any link. It said six of its members were arrested ‘after they participated in discussions with other democracy activists on promoting peaceful democratic change’.
The party said in a statement on Tuesday it ‘does not support the use of violence for any reason’.
Hanoi describes Viet Tan as a ‘terrorist organisation’ trying to overthrow the government.
Quan doi nhan dan (People’s Army) and Nhan Dan (People) newspapers said on Thursday that a Vietnamese-born couple who live in the United States were arrested trying to bring a Ruger model P85 and 13 bullets into Vietnam.
Viet Tan is opposed to one-party Communist rule and counts among its members Vietnamese whose families left or did not return after the end of the war with the US in 1975.
Police newspapers said investigators found 7,000 ‘subversive’ leaflets by Viet Tan and 1,000 stickers with its logo and the radio frequency for ‘A New Horison’ radio programme in the possession of some of those arrested.