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Cablegate: Ambassador Expresses Deep Concern Over Arrest of Amcit

VZCZCXRO0951
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1969/01 3241103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201103Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6750
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3972
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001969

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH, CA/OCS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR CASC VM

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN OVER ARREST OF AMCIT
ACTIVIST


HANOI 00001969 001.2 OF 002


1.(SBU) Summary: The Ambassador has called the Vice Minister of
Foreign Affairs and written to the Vice Minister of Public Security
(MPS) to raise our concerns about the reported arrest of at least
one AmCit and fellow activists in HCMC November 17. Text of the
Ambassador's letter to MPS is contained in Para 8. We are seeking
consular access, which is expected to be granted in the coming days.
End summary.

2.(SBU) Various Vietnamese-American sources in the United States
reported the arrests by Vietnamese authorities of two American
citizens: Dr. NGUYEN, Quoc Quan (Sacramento, California) and Mr.
TRUONG, Leon Van Ba (Hawaii), plus the arrest of one French citizen:
Ms. NGUYEN, Thi Thanh Van, one Thai citizen: Mr. SOMSAK, Khunmi, and
two Vietnamese citizens: Mr. Nguyen The Kiem and Mr. Nguyen The Vu.


3. (SBU) Ambassador Michalak called the French and Thai Ambassadors
to share information on the case. The French Ambassador said they
were making similar protests with the MFA, while the Thai Ambassador
said he had tasked his Consul General in HCMC to look into the
matter.

4.(SBU) The GVN has informed us it has one American under detention
for "terrorism" charges, but has not commented in detail about the
case as yet. According to U.S. based sources, these individuals
were producing printed materials calling for the peaceful overthrown
of the current Vietnamese Government, complete with instructions on
how to organize and carry out peaceful mass protests.

5.(SBU) On November 19, ConGen HCMC began investigating, and we can
now confirm that Amcit Leon Truong was arrested. We are seeking
confirmation of the status of Nguyen, Quoc Quan. We have formally
requested consular access, which is expected to be granted in the
coming days. MPS informed ConGen HCMC that they have not detained
Nguyen, Quoc Quan. Post is currently trying to determine Mr.
Nguyen's whereabouts. We do not have a Privacy Act Waiver from Mr.
Truong or Mr. Nguyen, so we cannot make any public statements about
their situation.

6. (SBU) On the basis of available information, including a stream
of appeals from ethnic Vietnamese in the United States, we have
determined that the one Amcit arrested, and probably the others, are
being held for non-violent political acts. The Ambassador raised
deep concerns about the situation in a November 20 call to Vice
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh. VFM Minh said he did
not have much information but that he understood the individuals
have not been charged yet. If they violated Vietnamese law, they
would be charged - if they did not, they would be freed. Minh said
he would follow up with MPS and give the Ambassador an update.

7. (SBU) The Ambassador also raised the issue in a November 20
letter to Vice Minister of Public Security Nguyen Van Huong. Text
of that letter follows below.

8.(SBU) Begin text of letter:

Mr. Vice Minister:

I am writing to express my concern about reports of the November 17
arrest of several individuals including at least one American
citizen, Mr. Leon Truong, in Ho Chi Minh City. Our Mission consular
officers in Ho Chi Minh City have requested access to any American
citizens in custody and we will greatly appreciate your help in
facilitating that.

From what we understand at this point, the actions taken against
these individuals appear to be designed to silence the peaceful
expression of their political views. If this is indeed the case, we
protest these arrests and call for the immediate release of those
involved.

As we have said repeatedly, the United States supports the
territorial integrity of Vietnam and does not support violent action
against the government of Vietnam. We believe, however, that
improving the protection of human rights, including freedom of
peaceful expression of opinion, is in Vietnam's interests and will
ultimately make the country stronger.

I know you are aware of Vietnam's international obligations to
promote and protect the fundamental human rights of its people. I
have appreciated our frank and fruitful discussions on these and
other issues of mutual concern and appreciate your prompt attention
to this matter.


Sincerely,

HANOI 00001969 002.2 OF 002

Michael W. Michalak

His Excellency
Colonel General Dr. Nguyen Van Huong,
Vice Minister of Public Security
Hanoi, Vietnam.

Cc: Pham Binh Ming, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs


MICHALAK

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