Germany accuses Vietnam of kidnapping asylum seeker in Berlin

BERLIN • Germany has accused Vietnam of kidnapping a former Vietnamese oil executive who was seeking asylum in Berlin and taking him home to face accusations of corruption.

Berlin also ordered a Vietnamese intelligence officer to leave Germany within 48 hours.

It said it was considering further action for an "unprecedented" breach of German and international law over the abduction of Trinh Xuan Thanh, accused of causing around US$150 million (S$204 million) in losses at a Vietnamese state firm.

"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," a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters yesterday.

Vietnam's foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Police in Vietnam said this week that Thanh had turned himself in on Monday after a 10-month international manhunt. They gave no details as to why he had decided to return home and hand himself in.

The German foreign ministry spokesman said the Vietnamese ambassador had been summoned on Tuesday afternoon and that the official representative of the Vietnamese intelligence service had been ordered to leave.

He said the kidnapping "has the potential to negatively affect relations massively".

German media reported that the man had been taken from the Tiergarten, a large forested park in central Berlin, by armed men on July 23.

Thanh, 51, was a former high flier in Vietnam who was accused of mismanagement and causing losses at PetroVietnam Construction JSC, part of the state energy company PetroVietnam.

He came to public attention in mid-2016 when he was found to have a luxury Lexus car with a government licence plate, causing an outcry in a country where officials are expected to live modestly.

That prompted Communist Party head Nguyen Phu Trong to order an investigation into his career and how he had been given further promotions despite the alleged losses at PetroVietnam Construction.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Germany accuses Vietnam of kidnapping asylum seeker in Berlin'. Print Edition | Subscribe