Cablegate: Detained Viet Tan Members Released; Nguyen Quoc Quan
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0395 0980952
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070952Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7552
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4541
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS HANOI 000395
STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH, CA/OCS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR CASC VM
SUBJECT: DETAINED VIET TAN MEMBERS RELEASED; NGUYEN QUOC QUAN
REMAINS UNDER DETENTION
Ref: Hanoi 389
1.(SBU) Three members of the opposition Viet Tan Party (aka Vietnam
Reform Party) party apparently detained in Ho Chi Minh City while
trying to visit fellow Viet Tan members including Amcit Nguyen Quoc
Quan (reftel) left Vietnam over the weekend, reportedly released by
the GVN and expelled from the country. According to contacts
outside of Vietnam and the Viet Tan website, the three, Amcit Mr.
Mai Huu Bao, Swiss citizen Ms. Nguyen Thi Xuan Trang and Australian
citizen Nguyen Tan Anh, were detained the morning of April 3 when
taking food and medicine to the detention facility where Nguyen Quoc
Quan and the others were being held.
2. (SBU) Poloff heard from Swiss Embassy April 6 that there were
unconfirmed reports that the three had been released. ConOff
confirmed that Mai Huu Bao had departed Vietnam via Hong Kong and on
April 7 a friend of Mr. Bao confirmed to ConGen HCMC ConOff that he
had arrived safely in Los Angeles.
3. According to an April 5 Viet Tan press release (forwarded to
EAP/MLS) the three individuals were released 48 hours after being
detained on April 3 at the Ministry of Public Security detention
center in HCMC, where they had gone to visit imprisoned Viet Tan
members Nguyen Quoc Quan, Somsak Khunmi, Nguyen The Vu and Nguyen
4. (SBU) According to the press release: "The request to make a
humanitarian visit was not granted by prison officials. Instead,
the three Viet Tan members were illegally held at the detention
facility, had their mobile phones confiscated, and were prevented
from having any communication with the outside. After they had gone
missing for 24 hours, their friends alerted the Swiss, American and
Australian consulates which made inquiries with Vietnamese
authorities. Unable to fabricate or produce any criminal charges
stemming from this humanitarian visit, the Hanoi government had to
release the three individuals."
5. (SBU) Comment: Given that it is well known that even family
members are not normally granted access to prisoners under
investigation in Vietnam, it is probable that these three
individuals understood that they would not gain access to their
imprisoned colleagues, but rather hoped to peacefully highlight
their cause. The Vietnamese decision to expel these individuals was
calculated to limit international attention to the situation.
Nguyen Quoc Quan remains in detention. We hope to undertake another
consular visit soon, and continue to call for his release.
6. (U) This cable was coordinated with ConGen HCMC.