Vietnam’s spy chief has been expelled from Germany, which was processing Trinh Xuan Thanh’s asylum claim after 3.3bn dong went missing from state oil company

In broad daylight, witnessed by joggers and dog walkers, a former oil executive is plucked at broad daylight from a central Berlin park by armed men and bundled into the back of a car. Days later he appears on state television in his native Vietnam confessing he had in fact chosen to come home in order to face justice for his wrongdoings.

The story could well be the plot of a cold war thriller. Except that the German government has said it has “no doubt” that Trinh Xuan Thanh, 51, was abducted by intelligence agents just a few days ago. They have demanded an explanation from the Vietnamese government in Hanoi for the brazen act, as well as summoning its ambassador to the foreign ministry in Berlin and expelling its spy chief, who has been labelled persona non grata.

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