Vietnam protests S. Korea's rejection of its extradition request

Posted on : 2006-07-30 17:05 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Hanoi, July 29 (Yonhap News)

Vietnam has filed an official complaint with South Korea, protesting a Seoul court ruling that rejected its request to extradite a dissident leader accused of terrorism, South Korean officials here said Saturday.

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry called in South Korea's ambassador Thursday right after it learned that a South Korean court turned down its request to extradite a dissident leader, Nguyen Huu Chanh.

"The vice foreign minister told me about his sour feelings," the South Korean envoy, Kim Eui-ki, said.

In retaliation, the Vietnamese official told Kim that his government has canceled plans to extradite South Korean criminal suspects in prison as well as to arrange meetings with Vietnamese leaders for visiting South Korean officials, a South Korean diplomatic source said.

"For the foreseeable future, the working relationship with the Vietnamese government will be very difficult," the source said, noting that there are some pending issues to be addressed in the run-up to Vietnam's hosting of this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Vietnam had campaigned hard to get the dissident to be extradited since he was arrested in Seoul in April by South Korean investigators acting on its request. Its top leaders had sent personal letter requesting South Korea's cooperation on the matter.

"I think I will have to prepare for some difficulties in negotiating new projects here. Especially, South Koreans should take extra caution in regards to public security affairs," a South Korean businessman here said, asking that he remain anonymous.

The Seoul High Court rejected the Vietnamese request, citing an international treaty under which South Korea is not bound to extradite suspects accused of political crimes. The court also noted that Vietnam is not a signatory to the 1998 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing.

Supporters hail Chanh as a pro-democracy leader determined to free Vietnam from communism but Hanoi has long identified him as a terrorist involved in a series of failed attempts to bomb the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok in 2001 and various other state facilities in Vietnam between 1999 and 2000.

When he was reunited with his wife and sons in Seoul right after his release from prison on Thursday, Chanh, 57, vowed to intensify his campaign against the Vietnamese government.

After escaping from a Vietnamese prison in 1981, Chanh moved to the United States where he established a government-in-exile. Now he is secretary-general of its political organ Vietnamese National party.

He traveled to South Korea to raise funds for his anti-Vietnamese activities but it was a set-up orchestrated by the Vietnamese government, reports said. Although he lives in the U.S.

as a permanent resident, the dissident is legally a Vietnamese national, according to South Korean officials.