Fourth Vietnamese charged for connections with US-based exile group

Vietnamese authorities on Friday arrested and charged a man with “carrying out activities to overthrow the government,” making him at least the fourth person this year apprehended for joining a U.S.-based exile Vietnamese organization branded by Hanoi as an overseas terrorist group, state media reported.

Nguyen Doan Quang Vien, 39, of Lam Dong province and Ho Chi Minh City, had asked to join the Provisional Government of Vietnam after learning of its existence on social media in 2017, according to a police investigation. 

Based in Orange County, California, the Provisional Government of Vietnam, was founded in 1991 by former soldiers and refugees loyal to the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam that was overthrown and absorbed by North Vietnam in 1975. The group now refers to itself as the Third Republic of Vietnam, according to its website.

Vien had additionally promoted the organization to others and encouraged them to take part in a referendum on supporting its U.S. citizen leader, Dao Minh Quan, as the rightful president of the country, according to the report.

Authorities have this year arrested at least three others for allegedly joining the Provisional Government of Vietnam.

In August, the court sentenced Tran Huu Duc of Nghe An province to three years in prison and Ngo Cong Tru from Phu Yen province to 10 years.

Police detained Le Thi Kim Phi from An Giang province in September, but she has yet to be sentenced.

Vietnam designated the ‘Provisional Government of Vietnam” as a terrorist organization in 2018 and has continuously arrested and imprisoned many people on the charge of being involved in the group over the years.

RFA has contacted the organization many times for comment, but never has received a response.

In 2017, Lisa Pham, a senior member of the group living in the U.S., was accused by Vietnam’s communist government of being involved in a plot to blow up Tan Son Nhat International Airport. At that time, she told RFA that she had nothing to do with the 15 people convicted for their role in the plot.

The leader of the would-be bombers, Dang Hoang Thien, was sentenced in December 2017 to 16 years in prison and five years of house arrest, while 14 other members of the group were sentenced to terms ranging from five to 14 years.

RFA has reported about two dozen cases in which Vietnamese citizens have been convicted and jailed for political offenses over social media posts since the beginning of this year. Among those serving sentences for Facebook posts are journalists, bloggers, and an ordinary citizen who posted complaints about coronavirus policies.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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