GERMANY has expelled a senior Vietnamese diplomat after Vietnam’s government was accused of kidnapping a former oil executive who was seeking asylum in Berlin.
The 51-year-old former executive of the state oil company PetroVietnam, Trinh Xuan Thanh, was reportedly forcibly abducted on July 23. Vietnamese police had earlier claimed Thanh voluntarily handed himself in on Monday after an international manhunt lasting 10 months.
In response, German authorities summoned the Socialist Republic’s ambassador in Berlin on Tuesday and ordered a representative of the Vietnamese intelligence agency to leave the country within 48 hours.
“The abduction of Vietnamese citizen Trinh Xuan Thanh in Germany is an unprecedented and flagrant breach of German and international laws,” tweeted Germany’s Foreign Office on Wednesday.
The representative of the Vietnamese intelligence service in Germany will be declared persona non grata+has to leave Germany within 48 hours
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) August 2, 2017
“There is no serious doubt about the participation of the Vietnamese intelligence service and embassy in the kidnapping of a Vietnamese citizen on German soil,” said a spokesman for Germany’s Foreign ministry as quoted by Reuters.
The spokesman added Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not respond for comment.
Thanh stands accused of corruption and causing losses worth US$150 million while heading up PetroVietnam. The charges come amidst a power struggle within the Communist Party of Vietnam, with conservative communists cracking down on capitalistic reformers like Thanh.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry also said the kidnapping an “extreme breach of trust” and claimed the incident had “the potential to negatively affect relations massively.”
A reporter with The Financial Times in Berlin reported Vietnam’s ambassador would also be expelled by the German government.
— Mike Tatarski (@miketatarski) August 3, 2017
One activist reported the government had blocked the Internet in Vietnam after Thanh’s abduction.
— Anh Chí (@AnhChiVN) August 3, 2017
United States Senators have described Vietnam as “one of the most repressive regimes in the world, while Human Rights Watch says the rights situation in the country is “dire in all areas.”