Vietnam police surround courthouse ahead of dissident trial

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Protesters and security forces are gathering in the normally quiet Vietnamese capital for the trial of a high-profile lawyer known for taking on human rights cases and writing a blog critical of the government.

Le Quoc Quan was arrested last year and accused of tax evasion, a charge widely considered to be trumped up.

Quan’s case is being followed closely by Washington, which is pressing Hanoi to loosen its restrictions on those advocating democracy and greater respect for human rights. Quan studied law in the U.S.

The trial was due to start Wednesday morning, though it was not clear if it had due to restrictions on communicating from the courtroom.

Hundreds of police were preventing people from getting close to the court, and Quan’s supporters rallied elsewhere in the city.