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Cablegate: Police Question Dr. Nguyen Dan Que

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

240812Z Sep 02

2002HOCHI00966 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ2389

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FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6824
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
ASEAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000966

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM VM HUMANR
SUBJECT: POLICE QUESTION DR. NGUYEN DAN QUE


1. (SBU) BEGIN SUMMARY: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST DR. NGUYEN
DAN QUE VERBALLY SPARRED WITH POLICE AND OTHER SECURITY
PERSONNEL FOR FOUR HOURS ON SEPTEMBER 20, WHEN THEY
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APPEARED AT HIS HOME IN AN ATTEMPT TO BRING HIM TO THE
LOCAL POLICE STATION FOR QUESTIONING. NOT KNOWING THE
REASONS FOR THIS UNEXPECTED VISIT, QUE REFUSED TO ACCOMPANY
THE POLICE WITHOUT A PROPER LEGAL SUMMONS. POLOFF VISITED
QUE THE DAY AFTER THE INCIDENT AND FOUND HIM FEISTY,
HEALTHY AND DETERMINED TO CONTINUE TO CHAMPION HUMAN RIGHTS
AND DEMOCRACY IN VIETNAM. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) DR. QUE'S BROTHER IN THE U.S. CALLED CONGEN HCMC
ON SEPTEMBER 20, SHORTLY AFTER THE INCIDENT HAD TAKEN
PLACE. ACCORDING TO THE BROTHER, QUE HAD PHONED HIM AND
HAD JUST BEGUN TO DESCRIBE THE POLICE STANDOFF WHEN THE
CALL WAS CUT OFF. FEARING FOR QUE'S SAFETY, THE BROTHER
ASKED FOR ASSISTANCE. CONGEN THEN MADE SOME INQUIRIES AND
AGREED WITH THE BROTHER THAT BOTH WOULD KEEP IN CONTACT AND
CONTINUE TO CALL THE LAST KNOWN CELL PHONE NUMBER FOR DR.
QUE. (POST NOTE: LOCAL SECURITY AUTHORITIES REGULARLY SHOW
THEIR IRRITATION WITH QUE BY DISCONNECTING HIS HOME PHONE
AND CELL PHONE.) EARLY SEPTEMBER 21, HAVING MANAGED TO
REESTABLISH CONTACT AND GAIN A CLEARER PICTURE OF THE
SITUATION, THE BROTHER CONVEYED QUE'S INVITATION TO THE
CONSULATE GENERAL TO VISIT HIM AT HOME TO DISCUSS THE
SITUATION.

3. (SBU) CONGEN POLOFF VISITED DR. QUE ON THE AFTERNOON OF
SEPTEMBER 21. HE SEEMED UNFAZED BY THIS LATEST BRUSH WITH
THE STATE SECURITY APPARATUS AND APPEARED TO BE IN GOOD
HEALTH. HE SPOKE OPENLY AND ANIMATEDLY. WHILE THERE WERE
NO UNIFORMED POLICE NEAR THE RESIDENCE, THE EXISTENCE OF
CONSTRUCTION CREWS WORKING NEXT DOOR MADE IT DIFFICULT TO
TELL IF THE PROPERTY WAS UNDER SURVEILLANCE. POLOFF
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ENCOUNTERED NO OBSTACLES TO HIS ONE-BLOCK WALK DOWN THE
SIDESTREET ON WHICH DR. QUE LIVES.

4. (SBU) DESCRIBING EVENTS WITH HIS USUAL BRAVADO, DR. QUE
SAID THAT 20-30 POLICE AND SECURITY OFFICERS CAME TO HIS
HOME ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 AT 0800 AND STAYED UNTIL NOON.
SEVERAL OFFICERS WORE LOCAL POLICE UNIFORMS, BUT MANY MORE
WERE DRESSED IN STREET CLOTHES. TWO MARKED POLICE CARS
BLOCKED THE ALLEYWAY ON BOTH SIDES OF QUE'S DOORWAY. A MAN
WHO IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS NGUYEN VAN DUNG, DEPUTY CHIEF OF
POLITICAL SECURITY, LED THE OPERATION AND DID MOST OF THE
TALKING FOR THE NEXT FOUR HOURS. UPON ARRIVAL, DUNG
FLASHED AN OFFICIAL LOOKING DOCUMENT AND DEMANDED THAT QUE
ACCOMPANY HIM TO THE POLICE STATION. CITING ILL HEALTH AND
THE LACK OF A VALID LEGAL DOCUMENT ALLEGING SPECIFIC
VIOLATIONS OF VIETNAMESE LAW, QUE REFUSED.

5. (SBU) DEPUTY CHIEF DUNG ACCUSED DR. QUE OF AUTHORING
PRINT AND INTERNET ARTICLES CRITICAL OF GVN POLICIES.
ACCORDING TO QUE, DUNG THREATENED TO USE "STRONG MEASURES,"
TO INDUCE QUE TO SUBMIT TO QUESTIONING. QUE FREELY
ADMITTED THE TEXTS WERE HIS (SOME WERE SEVERAL YEARS OLD)
AND INVITED POLICE TO CONDUCT A SEARCH. HE NOTED THAT HIS
OPINIONS WERE ALREADY A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND HE HAD
NOTHING TO HIDE. HE INSISTED THAT HE WOULD GO TO THE
POLICE STATION ONLY IF FORCED TO DO SO. AFTER ATTEMPTING
TO PRESSURE QUE'S WIFE AND TWO ADULT SONS TO CONVINCE HIM
TO GIVE IN, DEPUTY CHIEF DUNG AND COMPANY FINALLY DEPARTED,
LEAVING SEVERAL OFFICERS BEHIND. AS HE LEFT, DUNG PROMISED
TO RETURN SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE WITH HIS BOSS, CHIEF THAI
VAN TAM, AND A COURT ORDER.
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6. (SBU) DR. QUE REPEATEDLY EMPHASIZED THAT HE HAD NO IDEA
WHAT MIGHT HAVE TRIGGERED THIS SUDDEN BURST OF INTEREST
FROM THE AUTHORITIES. ONE POSSIBILITY HE MENTIONED,
HOWEVER, WAS THE FACT THAT HE HAD BEEN EXPECTING A VISIT
FROM PHIL FISHMAN AND TIM RYAN OF THE AFL-CIO. BUT THEY
HAD NOT ACTUALLY MADE CONTACT WITH ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE
QUE'S PHONE SERVICE HAD BEEN INTERMITTENTLY CUT OFF. AS
POLOFF WAS LEAVING, QUE SAID THAT HE HAD RECENTLY RECEIVED
A LAPTOP COMPUTER FROM THE U.S. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF
SCIENCES AND ASKED IF THE CONSULATE GENERAL COULD ASSIST
HIM IN CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET. HE SAID THAT THE
AUTHORITIES WERE AWARE THAT HE HAD THE COMPUTER, BUT WOULD
NOT PERMIT HIM TO REGISTER FOR AN INTERNET ACCOUNT.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN AT LEAST A
YEAR THAT DR. QUE (OR A RELATIVE) HAS SPECIFICALLY ASKED
FOR CONGEN ASSISTANCE. OUR SURPRISE WAS MATCHED BY THAT OF
THE EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICE (LOCAL BRANCH OF THE FOREIGN
MINISTRY IN HCMC), WHO HAD HEARD OF NO NEW REASON FOR QUE
TO ATTRACT SUCH POLICE ATTENTION. QUE HAS RECEIVED
CONGENOFFS AND OTHER AMERICAN VISITORS FAIRLY REGULARLY.
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE PHONE SERVICE CUTOFFS, HE HAS NOT
COMPLAINED TO US OF SPECIFIC POLICE HARASSMENT.

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ2388

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ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00
DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00 H-01 TEDE-00
INR-00 IO-00 JUSE-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00
NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00
ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00
PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
/008W
------------------EBD9C5 240817Z /38
R 240812Z SEP 02
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6825
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
ASEAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000966

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/BCLTV

YAMAUCHI

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