August 24, 2017 / 10:34 AM / 3 months ago

Vietnamese man arrested over Cold War-style Berlin kidnapping

BERLIN (Reuters) - Czech authorities have arrested and extradited to Germany a Vietnamese intelligence agent suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of a Vietnamese businessman in Berlin last month, German prosecutors said on Thursday.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, former executive at a state oil company PetroVietnam, is seen on a street in Berlin, Germany October 20, 2016. Picture taken October 20, 2016. Bui Thanh Hieu (Nguoi Buon Gio)/Handout via REUTERS/Files

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has accused Vietnam of abducting the former manager of a state-owned company, who was seeking asylum in Germany, in an incident reminiscent of Cold War disappearances in the then-divided German capital.

The suspect, identified as Long N.H., is accused of unlawful foreign intelligence activity and being an accessory to deprivation of liberty, the German chief federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Long N.H. was arrested in the Czech Republic on Aug. 12 and extradited to Germany, a fellow European Union country on Wednesday, the statement said. It said investigations indicated he had rented in Prague on July 20 a van used in the kidnapping and that he drove it to Berlin the same day.

The Vietnamese businessman, Xuan Thanh Trinh, and his companion were grabbed in a Berlin street and bundled into the vehicle on July 23. He was then flown “against his own will” to Vietnam where he was formally arrested, the statement said.

Xuan Thanh Trinh had been an executive at state oil company PetroVietnam and had applied for political asylum in Germany. He was wanted in his southeast Asian homeland on charges of financial mismanagement that caused losses of some $150 million.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by Mark Heinrich

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