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Lawyer denied access to activist in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnamese man detained with alleged 'co-conspirators' since July 2018 for alleged treason
Lawyer denied access to activist in Ho Chi Minh City

A photo of Huynh Duc Thanh Binh and his mother before his arrest in July, 2018. (Photo supplied)

Published: May 10, 2019 09:55 AM GMT
Updated: May 10, 2019 10:21 AM GMT

An attorney in Vietnam has accused local authorities of violating the law by blocking him from meeting with his client who was arrested for allegedly engaging in subversive activities and possible treason.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng said police investigators and prosecutors in Ho Chi Minh City have not allowed him to contact Huynh Duc Thanh Binh despite him making an official request to do so three times.

Binh, 23, has been detained since mid-2018 for allegedly attempting to overthrow the communist state. Before his arrest, Binh studied economic law at a college in the city.

His mother, Nguyen Thi Hue, assigned Mieng to defend her son 10 days after he was apprehended.

Mieng, who defends human rights activists and perceived victims of social injustice, said investigators informed him that he would be allowed to meet Binh once an initial probe into the case had concluded.

The lawyer filed his first request three weeks after Binh's arrest.

Vietnamese law permits attorneys to contact their clients soon after they taken into custody. In sensitive cases relating to issues of national security, lawyers get to meet their clients once the preliminary investigation ends.

Mieng said police told him on March 7 the probe had already finished, and charges against Binh had been forwarded to prosecutors.

On April 1, officials asked the lawyer to send them his personal papers for "procedural reasons," but he refused because that is not the due legal process, Mieng said.

The lawyer accused authorities of violating several laws by not granting him a permit to defend his client. He said this should have been done within 24 hours of him filing the request, according to Vietnamese law.

Mieng said in a statement dated May 8 that he requested the chief of the Prosecution Office to make amends by dispatching the proper permit.

Many lawyers have supported Mieng and called on the government to stop discriminating against detained activists in national security cases.

Binh, his father Huynh Duc Thinh, and three other activists were arrested for "attempts to overthrow the people's government" on July 7, 2018.

One of them, Vietnamese-American Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, disappeared while visiting relatives in the Southeast Asian country.

Later, the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City confirmed Nguyen was being detained and investigated on suspicion of engaging in subversion.

He has since been held without trial and has not been granted any contact with either his lawyers or relatives.

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