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Cablegate: Tim Sakhorn's Release Confirmed; Current Whereabouts

VZCZCXRO0826
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #0606 1891055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071055Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4609
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3116
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0054
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 4835

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000606

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH AND DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KIRF CB VM
SUBJECT: TIM SAKHORN'S RELEASE CONFIRMED; CURRENT WHEREABOUTS
UNKNOWN

REF: A)07 HCMC 1145 B) 07 HCMC 836 C)07 HCMC 733 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary: A reliable Consulate contact has confirmed
that former Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn was released from prison
after completing his 12-month term for "undermining national
unity" (reftels) but reports conflict as to his actual date of
release and current whereabouts. Post has requested official
confirmation of Sakhorn's status from HCMC and An Giang
authorities. End Summary.

2. (SBU) A reliable Consulate contact in An Giang province said
former Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn was released the afternoon of
June 30, after having served 12 months in prison (including
pre-trial detention) for "undermining national unity" under
Article 87 of the GVN Penal Code. During his November 2007
trial, authorities claimed Sakhorn organized and provided
assistance to land rights protesters in several Delta provinces.
In June 2007, community witnesses in Cambodia reported that
Sakhorn had been defrocked and deported by Cambodian officials
for allegedly violating Buddhist rules of conduct. The
Cambodian Ministry of Interior states that Tim Sakhorn went to
Vietnam voluntarily, and that they have a document thumbprinted
by Tim Sakhorn stating as much. Tim Sakhorn resurfaced a month
later in Vietnamese custody in the border province of An Giang.

3. (SBU) Though none of Sakhorn's former Khmer monk colleagues
have seen or spoken with him since his release, Human Rights
Watch and international media reports say Sakhorn was released
on June 28 and escorted by authorities to the village of his
birth in Ba Chuc commune, An Giang, where a welcoming party was
organized and a house with land was offered to Sakhorn for
resettlement. Sakhorn was then "taken on a tour" of HCMC and
Hanoi.

4. (SBU) Post is awaiting a formal reply regarding Sakhorn's
status from HCMC and An Giang authorities.

5. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Phnom Penh and
Embassy Hanoi.

FAIRFAX

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