Anti-China activist held in Vietnam

HANOI - A prominent democracy activist, whose blog featured reports on demonstrations against the relay of the Beijing Olympic torch, has been arrested by Vietnamese police.

HANOI - A prominent democracy activist, whose blog featured reports on demonstrations against the relay of the Beijing Olympic torch, has been arrested by Vietnamese police.

This was reported in the Vietnamese press yesterday, one week before the torch's scheduled arrival in Ho Chi Minh City on April 29.

The newspaper, Vietnam Law, reported that Ho Chi Minh City police on Tuesday arrested Nguyen Van Hai, who blogs under the name Dieu Cay, on tax evasion charges.

It said police searched Hai's home and found evidence that he and his former wife had understated their monthly rent to avoid paying VAT.

Hai is a member of a group of bloggers known as the Union of Independent Journalists. Its members have called for protests along the torch's route when it is carried through the Vietnamese capital.

Members were also involved in organising demonstrations in December and January against Chinese moves to assert sovereignty over Spratly and Paracel Islands, which Vietnam also claims.

Vietnamese democracy activists, who requested anonymity, said that Hai had been detained on Monday in Dalat, 300 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and escorted back to the capital to facilitate the search of his house.

On his blog, Hai had featured articles on protests against the torch in other cities around the world, and others critical of China's policies in Tibet and Spratly and Paracel Islands, and opposing the torch's relay through Vietnam. - Sapa-dp

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