August 30, 2018 / 3:49 PM / 3 months ago

Vietnam arrests exiles group member with weapons - security ministry

HANOI (Reuters) - Police in Vietnam have arrested a man accused of being a member of a “terrorist” group and planning attacks in the country, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

In a statement, it said Le Quoc Binh, 44, was taken into custody early on Wednesday after entering Vietnam from Cambodia bringing a large number of weapons which which he intended to carry out terrorist activities.

It said Binh was a member of Viet Tan, a U.S.-based exiles group that Communist Vietnam regards as a “terrorist” body.

Police seized seven guns and 500 bullets after raiding Binh’s house in the central city of Quy Nhon, it added.

Binh’s family members and lawyer were not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for Viet Tan, which describes itself as an “unsanctioned pro-democracy party”, rejected the allegations.

“Hanoi’s Ministry of Public Security is trying to scare people (not to) support pro-democracy organizations by falsely accusing us of smuggling weapons. This is a ridiculous fabrication,” Viet Tan spokesman Duy Hoang said in a statement.

“Viet Tan does not espouse armed violence nor work with any individuals that do,” Hoang said.

Binh’s arrest came days after Vietnam ordered police and military forces in the capital Hanoi to prevent big gatherings or protests during its National Day holiday on Sept. 2.

Last week, a court in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City jailed two Vietnamese-Americans accused of loyalty to the now defunct U.S.-backed state of South Vietnam and masterminding a series of bomb plots.

Police said the pair had planned more bomb attacks on public holidays. Vietnamese authorities said the two were acting on behalf of the “Provisional Government of Vietnam”, a California-based exiles organisation also listed as a “terrorist” group by Vietnam.

South Vietnam ceased to exist when the Communist North won the Vietnam War in 1975.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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