February 7, 2020 / 9:23 AM / 2 months ago

Vietnam denounces Slovakian expulsion of diplomat in abduction row

FILE PHOTO: An image of Vietnamese former oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh is seen on a TV screen on state-run television VTV, saying he turns himself in at a police station in Hanoi, Vietnam August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Vietnam denounced Slovakia’s expulsion of one of its diplomats in a row over the abduction of a disgraced Vietnamese businessman via Slovakia in 2017, saying it was not in line with the “traditional friendship” between the two countries.

Businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh had been seeking asylum in Germany at the time of his disappearance on a Berlin street. He was spirited back to Vietnam, via Slovakia, where he was tried and jailed for life in 2018 for violating state regulations and embezzlement.

The case soured relations between Germany and Vietnam and prompted Germany to accuse Vietnam of breaching international law. Slovakia sought to distance itself from the case after reports a Slovakian state plane was used in the kidnap.

Slovakia’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its website late on Wednesday that it had “flagged strong diplomatic consequences if the very serious suspicions of abuse of Slovakia’s hospitality were confirmed officially”.

It declined to comment further on the case.

“We will consider measures appropriate to our bilateral relations, international law and practice,” the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Additional reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Nick Macfie

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