Cablegate: Proposed Press Guidance On Dr. Que's Detention

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




Department for EAP/BCLTV, EAP/P - K. Bailes

E. O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Post has notified the HCMC External Relations Office
(ERO), the local branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of its
interest in the case of Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, who was detained in
HCMC on March 17 (reftel). We have also requested MFA assistance
in obtaining additional information on the circumstances of his
detention and general medical condition. As of COB March 19, the
ERO was able to confirm only the basic facts as reported reftel.
They were unable to provide any further clarification on the
current status of his case, but have promised to continue to seek
answers on our behalf in the morning. Post will continue to press
for additional details.

2. (SBU) In a telephone conversation with Dr. Que's wife the
afternoon of March 19, she said that she had gone to the Municipal
Jail today with food, clothing, and medication. While she had
been allowed to leave the articles there for Dr. Que, she had not
been permitted to meet with him. When she requested an
opportunity to meet with the Director of the facility, she was
told that he was in meetings all day. She plans to return on
March 20. In an interesting footnote, an official at the ERO
mentioned twice today that Post probably had better first-hand
information on what had happened than the MFA, a likely reference
to Poloff's visit to Dr. Que's home the previous evening.

3. (U) Should the need arise, Post recommends the following
press guidance, on an "if asked" basis:

4. (U) Begin Press Guidance: The local office of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in Ho Chi Minh City has confirmed that Dr.
Nguyen Dan Que is currently under detention in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Consulate General has advised the Ministry of its strong
interest in the case and asked for additional information on the
specific circumstances of this prominent democracy activist's
detention. The Consulate General is unable to speculate on the
reasons for his detention at this time.

5. (U) Begin background: Dr. Que, an endocrinologist, is HCMC's
best-known political dissident. He was taken to the local police
station from his home at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, March 18, and
transferred to the Municipal Jail the following day. While in
detention, his home was searched and a number of his possessions
seized. His current legal status is not clear.

6. (U) Background continued: Dr. Que is 60 years old. He was
imprisoned from 1978 to 1988, but was never charged or tried for
any crime. In 1990, he was again imprisoned, this time after
being convicted of attempting to overthrow the government (for
writing and disseminating pro-democracy materials). He was
sentenced to 20 years imprisonment to be followed by 5 years house
arrest. He was released in a September 1998 amnesty (the first
prisoner amnesty that saw the release of significant numbers of
political prisoners).

7. (U) Background continued: Since his release, Dr. Que has
faced varying degrees of harassment, including steady surveillance
and monitoring of his activities and communications. His Internet
and telephone access is regularly restricted. Dr. Que suffers
from a bleeding ulcer and an unspecified kidney ailment, both of
which require medication.


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