ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi
Updated: March 22, 2019 09:53 AM GMT
Blogger Truong Duy Nhat (center) stands trial at a People's Court in the central city of Da Nang on March 4, 2014. He was jailed for two years for posting articles critical of the communist government and leaders. (Photo by AFP/Vietnam News Agency)
A well-known Vietnamese blogger who sought refugee status and went missing in Bangkok early this year is being held in Hanoi, according to sources.
They said Truong Duy Nhat is being held at T16 detention center under the authority of the Public Security Ministry in the capital.
Sources said his wife Cao Thi Xuan Phuong flew from her home in Da Nang on March 20 but was not allowed to meet him. She was told that her husband was arrested on Jan. 28 and has been held at the center since then. Center officials did not tell her where he was arrested.
She had been informed via telephone by a stranger about her husband’s whereabouts on March 15.
Phuong wrote to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the ministers of public security and foreign affairs to ask about her husband’s whereabouts on Feb. 9.
Nhat’s relatives and supporters believe that he was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents at the Future Park shopping mall on the outskirts of Bangkok on Jan. 26 after the blogger had applied for refugee status at the UNHCR’s office in Thailand’s capital the previous day.
The 55-year-old blogger was reported to have entered Thailand unofficially to seek refugee status.
Nhat, who was in charge of a blog for U.S.-based Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese language service before his arrest, recently commented on the growing opposition movement in Venezuela and prospects for change in Vietnam.
On March 21, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Hanoi to “immediately and unconditionally release blogger Nhat and allow him to travel freely outside of Vietnam.”
“Authorities in Vietnam and Thailand should investigate the circumstances around Nhat's apparent abduction in Thailand and hold those responsible to account under the fullest extent allowable under local laws," the group said in a statement.
Nhat was sentenced to two years in jail in 2014 for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state.” His political writings had criticized the government’s leadership and policies.