Friday, October 4, 2013

Vietnam Sentences a U.S.-Trained Human Rights Lawyer to 30 Months in Prison

Le Quoc Quan, a 42-year-old human rights lawyer in Vietnam, was sentenced this week to 30 months in prison.  He was convicted of alleged tax evasion in a case that the Wall Street Journal described yestersday as being "widely viewed to be politically motivated."  

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi issued a statement that accused Vietnam of using tax laws to imprison government critics.  The U.S. Embassy Statement read:

We are deeply concerned by the Vietnamese government’s conviction and sentencing of human rights lawyer and blogger Le Quoc Quan to 30 months in prison on tax evasion charges.  The use of tax laws by Vietnamese authorities to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing their political views is disturbing.

This conviction appears to be inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and commitments reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We call on the government to release prisoners of conscience and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views.

Judge Le Thi Hop found Mr. Quan guilty of evading payment on $30,000 in corporate income tax relating to a consultancy he ran in Hanoi.  The Wall Street Journal said he had been arrested shortly after posting an article on his blog criticizing the Communist Party's monopoly on power in Vietnam.  James Hookway, Hanoi Blogger Verdict Brings Protest by U.S. -- Embassy Complains as Vietnam Dissident Gets Prison Term, Wall St. J., Oct. 3, 2013, at A9.


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