A former prisoner of conscience has been summoned by police in Vietnam after accusing them of taking nearly U.S.$11,000 from her during her arrest three years ago.
Le Thi Binh, 46, is a member of Vietnam’s Constitution Group, posting her views regularly on Facebook. She also joined protests against the draft Laws on Cybersecurity and Special Economic Zones in 2018.
She was released at the end of November after serving a two-year prison sentence allegedly “abusing democratic freedoms.”
Police in southern Vietnam’s Can Tho city brought her in for questioning Wednesday after a Facebook stream, during which Binh said officers took U.S. dollars and Vietnamese dong she was saving to renovate her home.
During the meeting, the police said that Binh’s online talk on Jan. 22 contained sensitive content, affecting the reputation of state agencies, including the Binh Thuy district Police.
Binh told RFA when she was arrested on Dec. 22, 2022, police confiscated her handbag and wallet.
Binh said she told the police the money belonged to a friend who was traveling with her and assumed they would give it to the person, who was not arrested.
They later returned the handbag and wallet, which only had some small notes left in them.
“This money was definitely taken by Mr. Ky,” said Binh referring to Truong Ngoc Ky, the police officer investigating her case.
Binh said police also took money from her daughter’s wedding that was hidden in a photo album in her bedroom
Police used a hacksaw to open her door and forced her to sit on the bed while they ransacked her house, she said. The search report did not mention the missing money.
During Tuesday’s meeting the police said they did not take money from her house and asked her if anyone had seen her hiding it.
Binh said state media lied when they reported on the police search, saying she had many documents with anti-state content. She said the only documents in her home were bank books and her children’s books. When she met the police, she asked them to explain where the newspapers got their information but they didn’t tell her.
In an interview with RFA Vietnamese following her release Binh talked about the harsh conditions at An Phuoc Prison camp in Binh Duong province. She said she was forced to do hard labor and fed with only two meals of rice and rotten fish a day.
Police questioned her about this during her interview and she confirmed the facts were correct.
RFA called the Binh Thuy District Police to verify Binh’s claims but the officer on duty asked the reporter to come to the office to get the information. RFA has not yet visited the Binh Thuy police department.
Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.