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Arrest of energy director Ngo Thi To Nhien legal: Vietnam’s foreign ministry

Arrest of energy director Ngo Thi To Nhien legal: Vietnam’s foreign ministry

Friday, October 06, 2023, 16:40 GMT+7
Arrest of energy director Ngo Thi To Nhien legal: Vietnam’s foreign ministry
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang is seen at the press conference in Hanoi on October 5, 2023. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rejected false information with bad intentions about Vietnam’s crime fighting and prevention work, affirming that the recent arrest of Ngo Thi To Nhien, director of an energy firm, was legal.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang made the rejection at a regular press conference on Thursday in response to a foreign reporter who asked for further information about the arrest of Nhien, director of Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition Social Enterprise.

The reporter also questioned the trial of Hoang Thi Minh Hong, director of the Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment, which ceased operations in November 2022.

“We completely reject false information with bad intentions about Vietnam’s crime fighting and prevention activities as well as Vietnam’s external relations,” Hang stressed. 

Nhien was arrested and prosecuted on September 20 for allegedly appropriating an organization’s documents, as prescribed in Article 342 of the Penal Code, the spokesperson said, citing the Ministry of Public Security.

Meanwhile, Hong was tried by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on September 28 and was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of tax evasion, Hang added.

She affirmed that these two law violations have been treated in accordance with the laws of Vietnam.

At a press conference of the public security ministry on September 30, Lieutenant General To An Xo, spokesman for the ministry, said two men had been arrested along with Nhien on the same charge.

They included Duong Duc Viet, 44, senior specialist of the investment management committee of the National Power Transmission Corporation under the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), and Le Quoc Anh, 39, head of the system analysis department of the Power Engineering Consulting Company 1.

In 2020, after knowing Anh and Viet had the right to access information and documents regarding EVN's planning for power grid development policies, Nhien wanted to appropriate such materials. 

Nhien then signed employment and expert contracts with the two officials as a form to ‘legitimize the appropriation of documents,’ and the two men later provided such documents for Nhien.

“Nhien, Viet, and Anh have committed the offense of appropriating an organization's materials and police are expanding their investigation into the case,” Lieutenant General Xo affirmed.

The appropriated documents “are internal documents that are not allowed to be shared or publicly announced, and are classified as confidential,” the official emphasized. 

After Nhien was prosecuted, a number of foreign media agencies and exiled reactionary organizations published distorted information about the case and falsely accused Vietnam of arresting environmental activists, Xo said.

“The Ministry of Public Security rejects the above distorted allegations and considers it an act of interference in Vietnam's internal activities,” the spokesman stated.

“There is absolutely no arrest of environmental activists."

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Vinh Tho - Duy Linh / Tuoi Tre News

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