Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 13:27 UK

Vietnam holds high-profile lawyer

Le Cong Dinh
Mr Dinh defended pro-democracy activists

Vietnamese authorities have arrested a high-profile lawyer for allegedly conspiring against the government.

Le Cong Dinh, 41, one of Vietnam's most respected lawyers, has defended a number of pro-democracy activists.

He was alleged to have been found with a copy of a new constitution he wrote aiming to replace the current one.

The police said they will charge Mr Dinh with Article 88 of the Vietnam's Criminal Code for distributing anti-government materials.

Charismatic writer

Mr Dinh was arrested by security police for "colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese state" by publishing documents distorting the country's socio-economic policies, a senior security official said.

Major-General Hoang Cong Tu said Mr Dinh and his accomplices had also libelled Vietnam's top leaders, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in published documents, according to state media.

Married to a former Miss Vietnam, Mr Dinh is also known as a charismatic and active writer and columnist, whose commentaries on Vietnam's politics and current affairs appeared in many publications and online forums overseas, the BBC's Nga Pham said.

In his articles, Mr Dinh supported pluralism and called for wider reform of the Vietnamese political system.

Mr Dinh rose to prominence when he represented Vietnam's interests in the so-called "catfish battle" where US farmers accused the Vietnamese of dumping cheap seafood on the US market.

In recent years, Mr Dinh defended some of Vietnam's leading human rights and democracy activists, such as fellow lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, who have also been jailed for anti-government activity, our correspondent said.

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