The newest lawyer of a jailed RFA blogger in Vietnam told RFA’s Vietnamese Service Wednesday that he would not be surprised if authorities deliberately created obstacles to make it difficult for him to defend his client.
Truong Duy Nhat, who had been a weekly contributor to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, is believed to have been arrested in Thailand in January, where he was trying to apply for asylum status.
He has been accused of being involved in real estate fraud in Da Nang and is awaiting trial in detention in Hanoi.
Nhat’s lawyer Dang Dinh Manh said in the interview that the Supreme People’s Procuracy was illegally attempting to transfer his client’s case files to the People’s Court of Hanoi, when the trial should take place in Da Nang.
“Based on the indictment of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, showing that all the alleged crimes committed by Truong Duy Nhat occurred in Da Nang, including the property that was [allegedly] infringed upon … then the jurisdiction to hear the case must be the People’s Court of Da Nang City,” said Manh.
The lawyer said he had met with his client in the detention center on October 4, but he had planned meeting for a few days earlier. He was forced by authorities to postpone.
“I planned the meeting for September 27, but the Ministry of Public Security’s investigator called me to let me know that they could not arrange the time and asked me to postpone,” said Manh.
“I did not agree at first because there is no rule that forces me to work with clients while an investigator to supervises, but the investigator implied that without him I would not be allowed to meet my client, I realized how the Vietnamese justice system really works,” he added.
Manh said that Nhat appeared to be “very strong and lively” during the meeting, and he rejected the allegations against him, saying he was unjustly accused.
Vietnam, with a population of 92 million people, of which 55 million are estimated to be users of Facebook, has been consistently rated “not free” in the areas of internet and press freedom by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog group.
Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported and translated by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.