HANOI, Vietnam, Oct 10, 2003 (AP) — Vietnam on Friday accused two elderly leaders from a banned Buddhist sect of transporting state secrets, two days after a support group alleged the monks were in a standoff with police after being surrounded near a monastery.
Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, 86, and deputy director Thich Quang Do, 74, were on their way to Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday when they were pulled over by traffic police, Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said in a statement.
The police “discovered Mr. Quang Do and Mr. Huyen Quang carrying some evidence of their wrongful activities, including some documents classified as state secrets,” he said.
Do, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was sent to his monastery in Ho Chi Minh City, while Quang returned to Binh Dinh province, 650 kilometers (400 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City, the statement said.
Dung said no charges have been filed and “how the incident will be handled depends on the result of the investigation and the attitudes of the two.”
The Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau alleged police held the two for four hours before releasing them.
The bureau on Wednesday alleged security police surrounded a minivan the two were riding in just after leaving Quang’s monastery. They were allowed to pass hours later after a crowd of local Buddhists protested, the group said.
Dung has denied a standoff occurred and accused the bureau of trying to undermine Vietnam’s communist government.
The church, which has refused to accept Hanoi’s control, has been outlawed since 1981 after the communists defeated the U.S.-supported government of South Vietnam in 1975. Instead, the government recognizes the state-sanctioned Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
Quang and Do have each spent more than 20 years in jail or under house arrest.