Fugitive Vietnam agent held in Hanoi after Singapore deportation

Hanoi (AFP) - A fugitive Vietnamese intelligence officer wanted for allegedly revealing state secrets was detained on arrival in Hanoi on Thursday afternoon, officials said, hours after he was deported from Singapore.

Fugitive Vietnam agent held in Hanoi after Singapore deportation

Fugitive Vietnam agent held in Hanoi after Singapore deportation

Phan Van Anh Vu, who holds a senior rank in the Vietnamese secret police, was stopped last week at a border checkpoint in Singapore as he attempted to cross into neighbouring Malaysia.

The 42-year-old -- who is also a prominent property developer -- is mired in a complex and high-profile corruption case, part of a wider crackdown on graft driven by the Communist leadership.

His detention in Singapore came after Vietnamese police had announced that Vu was wanted for disclosing state secrets, without giving further details.

"Phan Van Anh Vu violated the immigration laws of Singapore and has been deported," said a statement published on the website of Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security.

On Thursday afternoon "investigators at the ministry of Public Security received and arrested the suspect", it said.

Lawyers in Germany had been pushing for Vu to be sent to the European country.

They argued he may have information about the alleged kidnapping of a Vietnamese executive, Trinh Xuan Thanh, in Berlin last year and have warned he could be condemned to death if repatriated.

German authorities say Thanh was brazenly snatched in a park in an operation carried out by Vietnamese spies -- an allegation Hanoi has denied.

Thanh is set to face trial in Hanoi alongside dozens of other suspects next Monday in a high-profile case that could see him sentenced to death.

Despite fears for Vu, Singapore authorities said Thursday that he had been sent back to Vietnam for using falsified documents to enter the city-state.

"He had entered Singapore using a Vietnamese passport bearing a false identity," a spokesman for Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement. "ICA has required Phan Van Anh Vu to leave for Vietnam."

Observers say Vietnam's anti-corruption sweep, which has echoes of a graft crackdown in Communist China, is being led by a conservative leadership in place since 2016.

Many believe it is as much about weeding out political enemies aligned with the former leadership as cracking down on corruption.

burs-apj/ssm/kaf

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