Vietnam arrests official engaged in UN talks on labour reform

HANOI (Reuters) -Police in Vietnam have arrested a senior official involved in talks with international organisations on labour reforms, state media said on Thursday, adding that the action was linked to the alleged disclosure of classified information.

The detention of Nguyen Van Binh follows months of arrests of prominent experts and activists, in what some diplomats see as a further crackdown on civil society amid a major reshuffle of top political leaders in the Communist-ruled country.

As director general of the labour ministry's legal affairs department, Binh, 51, was responsible for overseeing reforms to labour law on which he worked closely with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the ministry said on its website.

Reuters could not immediately reach Binh, his family or other representatives for comment.

The ILO's office in Vietnam said in a statement to Reuters it was aware had been detained as reported in state media.

"We are seeking further information in this regard and are unable to provide any additional comment at this time," it said.

Vietnam's labour ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Binh's arrest.

Binh was detained on charges of intentionally revealing state secrets, the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said, adding that police were widening their investigation.

His efforts with the ILO and international partners were aimed at possible ratification of Convention 87 on labour and trade union rights. If passed, this would guarantee workers the right to form independent trade unions without prior approval.

Vietnam is required to ratify the convention under a free trade deal with the European Union and pacts with Pacific trade partners, but the approval process has been long delayed.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Alexander Smith)