Germany on Wednesday ordered the expulsion a Vietnamese intelligence officer and accused Hanoi of kidnapping a former Vietnamese oil executive who was seeking asylum and taking him home to face accusations of corruption, Reuters news agency reported.
Berlin also demanded that Trinh Xuan Thanh, 51, be allowed to return to Germany for an asylum hearing and said it was considering further action in response to the abduction of Thanh, who is accused of causing around $150 million in losses at PetroVietnam Construction JSC, part of the state oil company PetroVietnam, Reuters reported.
"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," the agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as telling reporters.
Vietnam's foreign ministry has remained silent on the accusation. Hanoi had previously said that Thanh had turned himself in.
Bui Thanh Hieu, a Vietnamese blogger based in Bangkok, said had recently spoken to Thanh.
"What is confusing me is I was talking to Thanh before and I asked what he would do if he was staying at home and five or six people broke in to get him. He said that he would prefer dying to going back to Vietnam," he told RFA's Vietnamese service.
"That’s why when they said he was kidnapped, it’s hard for me to understand," Hiue added.
Thanh was a former top official in Vietnam who was accused of mismanagement and causing losses at his subsidiary of PetroVietnam.
PetroVietnam is the trading name for the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, the company owned by the Vietnamese central government that is responsible for all oil and gas resources in the country. PetroVietnam is the country's largest oil producer and second-largest power producer.
Reuters quoted Germany’s Sueddeutsche newspaper as reporting that Thanh had been scheduled to appear at an asylum hearing on July 24, the day after he was snatched by armed men.
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Paul Eckert.