Dissident 'attacks' Vietnamese singer Dam Vinh Hung

Singer Dam Vinh Hung (Image courtesy of
Image caption Dam Vinh Hung is said to be one of Vietnam's most successful and wealthiest singers

A Vietnamese activist has allegedly attacked one the country's best-known singers with pepper spray during a concert in the US state of California.

Video footage appears to show Ly Tong, dressed as a woman, attack Dam Vinh Hung with the chemical as the singer bent down to accept a flower from him.

Mr Tong was arrested and his bail set at $52,000 (£34,000).

The veteran dissident accused the star of being a communist agent - a claim strongly denied by Dam Vinh Hung.

In a news conference after the attack, Hung said he only sings about love.

California is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam, a one-party Communist state.

Hung's tour of the US has been controversial as some Vietnamese in the US see Hung as a representative of their former homeland's communist rulers, says Quynh Le of the BBC's Vietnamese Service.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including Vietnamese-US Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, had gathered outside the Santa Clara Convention Center to protest against the concert.

Political stunts

Mr Tong, a Vietnamese-born US citizen, is accused of assault and battery, illegal use of a chemical agent, and resisting arrest, among other charges. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

Image caption Ly Tong has committed a string of political stunts

The show was suspended and the audience of several hundred people was evacuated while the venue was ventilated for 15 minutes, local police said.

Mr Tong's lawyer, Nguyen Tam, said his client's protest was "political", and described the attack as "the lightest and most feasible act".

Mr Tong's act has divided opinion among Vietnamese in the US and Vietnam, says the BBC's Quynh Le.

To some US-Vietnamese, Hung is a product of the communist state, and is also seen as someone who just wants to make money and return to Vietnam.

But Do Dzung, a journalist for Nguoi Viet newspaper in southern California, condemned Mr Tong's attack, saying it had belittled the peaceful demonstration at the venue.

Ly Tong has committed a string of political stunts.

In 1992, the former South Vietnamese fighter pilot hijacked a passenger jet and dropped 50,000 leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was given amnesty in 1998.

In 2008 he was detained by South Korea after a foiled attempt to drop 20,000 anti-communist leaflets over Seoul during a visit by China's president.

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