Vietnam Police Rough Up US Envoy
Diplomat attempted to visit pro-democracy dissident
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2011 9:00 AM CST
Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, lower center, is seen in a courtroom in Vietnam's Thua Thien Hue province. The dissident is under house arrest for attempting to undermine Vietnam's government.   (AP Photo/ Tran Van Minh, File)

(Newser) – The US has lodged a strong protest against Vietnam's treatment of an American diplomat who attempted to visit a prominent pro-democracy dissident. US officials say embassy political officer Christian Marchant was roughed up and had a car door repeatedly slammed on his legs when he tried to visit Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest under house arrest, AP reports.

Vietnam's state-controlled media claims that Marchant was responsible for creating a disturbance. The diplomat shouted curses in English and Vietnamese, shoved a local official, and punched another person in the face, according to the Thanh Nien newspaper, which quotes unidentified witnesses. Marchant, the paper says, was "gently advised" to leave by officials, and he replied that he was a diplomat and could go anywhere.