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Cablegate: Update On Prisoners of Concern

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 001864

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL VM HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON PRISONERS OF CONCERN

1. (U) On July 21, the MFA's International Organizations
Department provided an update dated July 17 on 28 persons of
concern, whose names had been on a longer list provided by
the Embassy earlier this year, covering both religious and
political prisoners. The MFA's information is quoted below
verbatim, with some parenthetical comments/additional
information from Embassy. (The categories are also of the
Embassy's design, for ease in reference.) The MFA promised
that "information is being checked" on the other 33 cases,
many involving ethnic minority Protestants, without any
indication of when such additional updates may be
forthcoming.

2. (U) Comment: The MFA's willingness to interface with
MPS and obtain this information, however time-consuming the
process has been, is a good sign of cooperation, even if
there is little good news. Still, seven confirmed releases -
- some of which are long-standing religious prisoners about
whom no information had been available for years -- welcome
and will be reflected in this year's reports on
international religious liberty and on human rights. End
comment.

Releases
--------

3. (U) Ho Vu Khanh: Arrested 1 January 1983, charged with
"attempting to overthrow the Government" as provided for
under Article 79 of Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced to
a life imprisonment. In 1999, his sentence was reduced to
20 years' imprisonment. His term ended on 19 January 2003.
As of today, he is a normal citizen. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Khanh is a Cao Dai arrested in 1977, believed
still to have been imprisoned in Hanoi or possibly even no
longer alive.)

4. (U) Tran Van Nhi: Arrested 29 October 1983, charged
with "attempting to overthrow the Government" as provided
for under Article 79 of Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced
to a life imprisonment, later reduced to 20-year
imprisonment. His term was expected to end on 29 July 2002.
However, he was granted freedom on the occasion of the
amnesty of 2 September 2000. He's now residing in Vi Thanh,
Can Tho. (Per Embassy's earlier information, Nhi was
another Cao Dai arrested in 1977, also believed either to be
imprisoned in Hanoi or possibly no longer alive.)

5. (U) Truong Van Thuc: Born 1946. Arrested on 28 March
2000 on charge as provided for under Article 87 of Vietnam's
Criminal Law and sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment. He was
released on the occasion of he amnesty of 2 September 2002.
He is a free citizen. (Per Embassy's earlier information,
Thuc is a Hoa Hao believed still imprisoned.)

6. (U) Vo Van Buu: Born 1969. Arrested on June 2000 on
charge of opposing an official in the performance of his
public duty, as provided for under Article 257 of Vietnam's
Criminal Law and sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment by the
People's Court of An Giang province. He is a free citizen.
(Per Embassy's earlier information, Buu is a Hoa Hao
believer thought to have been given a 30 year sentence in
September 2000.)

7. (U) Nguyen Xuan Tu (Ha Sy Phu) is a free citizen. (Per
Embassy's earlier information, he had been under an
administrative probation order ending in March 2003.)

8. (U) Hoang Minh Chinh (alias Tran Ngoc Nghiem, Le Hong)
is a free citizen. (Per Embassy's earlier information, he
has variously been under administrative probation and
heightened scrutiny.)

9. (U) Bui Minh Quoc is a free citizen. (Per Embassy's
earlier information, this poet was detained on charges of
possessing anti-government literature on January 14, 2002
and given a two year administrative probation term in March
2002.)

Still imprisoned, but new information
-------------------------------------

10. (U) Huynh Van Ba (Thich Thien Minh): Born 1955, in Ca
Mau. Arrested 21 March 1987 for "attempting to overthrow
the government" as provided for under Article 79 of
Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced to life imprisonment,
later his sentence was reduced to 20-year imprisonment. Now
serving his term at Xuan Loc detention camp, Dong Nai
province. In good health.

11. (U) Nguyen Thien Phung, Bernard (Nguyen Viet Huan):
Born 1950. Arrested 13 June 1987 for "sabotaging the
national unity policy" as provided for under Article 87 of
Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced to a life imprisonment,
later this sentence was reduced to 20-year imprisonment.
Now serving his term at Xuan Loc detention camp, Dong Nai
province. In good health. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, he was a member of the Order of the Mother Co-
Redemptrix.)

12. (U) Pham Minh Tri (Pham Ngoc Lien, John B.): Born
1944, residing in Ho Chi Minh City. Arrested on 21 May 1987
for "sabotaging the national unity policy" as provided for
under Article 87 of Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced to
a 20 year imprisonment. Now he is serving his term at Xuan
Loc prison, Dong Nai province. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, he also was a member of the Order of the Mother
Co-Redemptrix.)

13. (U) Nguyen Chau Lang: Born 1956. Arrested 28 March
2001 on charge as provided for under Article 87 of Vietnam's
Criminal Law and sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment. Now
serving his time in Xuan Loc camp, Dong Nai province. In
good health. (Per Embassy's earlier information, Lang aka
Lan was another Hoa Hao believer thought to have been
sentenced on September 26, 2000 to a three year term.)

14. (U) Ha Hai: Born 1931. Arrested on 19 November 2000
on charge as provided for under Articles 258 and 269 of
Vietnam's Criminal Law and sentenced to a 5 year
imprisonment. Now serving his term at Xuan Loc prison camp,
Dong Nai province. In good health. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Hai is the third ranking officer of the Hoa Hao
Central Buddhist Church, sentenced to 5 years on January 16,
2001.)

15. (U) Truong Van Duc: Carried out anti-Government armed
terrorist activities from 1975 to 1986, arrested in
September 1984 on charge of participating in an anti-
Government armed group (namely "Army of the Volunteers") and
illegally storing weapons. He escaped the prison in
December 1986 and later renewed his illegal activities until
being arrested on 8 February 2001. May 11, 2001, Duc was
sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment by the People's Court of
An Giang province. Now serving his term in Dinh Thanh camp,
An Giang province. (Per Embassy's earlier information, Duc
is a Hoa Hao believer sentenced May 20, 2001 in connection
with a December 20, 2000 incident.)

16. (U) Ho Van Trong: Member of the same group as Truong
Van Duc. Arrested on 20 December 2000 on charge of carrying
out activities in violation of Vietnamese law and of
opposing an official in the performance of his public duty,
as provided for under Article 257 of Vietnam's Criminal Law.
He was sentenced May 11, 2001 by the People's Court of An
Giang province to 4 years' imprisonment for violating
Article 269 of the Penal Code. Now serving his time in Dinh
Thanh camp, An Giang province. In good health. (Per
Embassy's earlier information, Trong is another Hoa Hao
believer, thought to have been sentenced May 20, 2001 in
connection with a December 20, 2000 incident.)

17. (U) Nguyen Van Ly: Ly carried out activities in
violation of the Vietnamese law:
-- in 1977, Ly was dismissed as General Bishop See's
Secretary by Archbishop and appointed to Bishop of Doc So,

SIPDIS
Huong Son;
-- In 1981, late Archbishop Nguyen Kim Dien issued a
decision to deprive Ly of his right to exercise missionary
work because of his self-indulgent life style, violating the
code of ethics and the Christian rules, and damaging the
credibility of the Church;
-- The public trial of Nguyen Van Ly on charge of
"incompliance with the decision on administrative probation
issued by the authorized entity" and "undermining the
national unity policy" (Articles 269 and 87 of the Penal
Code, respectively) was opened on 19 October 2001 in Hue
City by the Thua Thien-Hue provincial People's Supreme
Court. At the trial, in the face of undeniable evidence, Ly
pled guilty. Pursuant to Article 269 and Article 87 of the
Penal Code respectively, the Court Council sentenced him to
2 years' imprisonment on charge of "incompliance with the
decision on administrative probation issued by the
authorized entity" and 13 years' imprisonment on charge of
"undermining the national unity policy."
-- Aggregately, Ly was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment,
plus 5 years' probation at the resident locality following
the completion of his jail term.
-- On July 16, 2003, the People's Court of the Nam-Ha
province decided to reduce Ly's sentence by 5 years as he
made progress in the reeducation process. (Note: See Hanoi
1831 and 1821.)

18. (U) Hoang Trong Dung: Born in 1980 in Nguyet Bieu,
Thuy Bieu, Hue City, Thua Thien-Hue province. He carried
out activities in violation of Vietnamese law, such as
inciting people to hinder the building process of the new
canal in Nguyet Bieu, causing public disorder, inciting the
Catholics to illegitimately occupy the land owned by a
number of households residing next to the Jehovah Church,
causing public disorder during the National Assembly
election in Thuy Bieu hamlet, inciting the Catholics to
occupy the land in Nguyet Bieu hamlet. On August 1, 2002,
the Chairman of the People's Committee of Thua Thien-Hue
province signed an order in strict accordance with Decision
1994/QD-UB to take Dung to an education facility. He's now
complying with the Decision in Hoang Cat education facility,
Quang Tri province. In good health. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Dung is affiliated with Father Nguyen Van Ly
and had been thought to have been detained August 28,
2002.).

19. (U) Le Chi Quang: Born 1970, unemployed, resident in
Trung Liet Quarter, Dong Da District, Ha Noi. Charged under
Paragraph C, provision 1, Article 88 of the Criminal Law of
the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in 1999. On 8 November,
2002, People's Court of Ha Noi opened Court of First
Instance against Quang. The Court sentenced Quang for 4
year imprisonment and another 3 year on-site surveillance
after imprisonment fulfillment. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, there is concern about treatment of his liver
condition; he is believed to be in B-14 prison near Hanoi.)

20. (U) Pham Hong Son: Born 1968 in Nam Dinh, doctor MBA,
resident in 72B Thuy Khue Street, Hanoi, work in the
pharmaceutical company of Trade Wind Asia in Hanoi. On 18
June, the Ha Noi People's Court tried the case of Pham Hong
Son on charge of "espionage" crime. According to the
indictment stated by the Supreme People's Court, on March
27, 2003, based on the verified reports of the information
management unit, Security Investigation Organization,
Ministry of Public Security, made an immediate arrest
against Pham Hong Son, a staff member in the Tradewind ASIA
pharmaceutical company. Search of his house at No. 72B Thuy
Khue St., Tay Ho district, Hanoi revealed a number of
documents and a hard computer disk full of contents against
the State. With all these evidences and his declaration
during the court hearing, the court ruled that Son had
committed "espionage" crime as stipulated in Item C, Clause
1, article 80 of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Republic
of Viet Nam, and sentenced him to 13 years in prison and
three years under administrative probation on espionage
charges. (Note: This oddly redundant description omits the
actual date of his sentencing -- June 17, 2003 -- and
suggests that Son more or less confessed, contrary to
Embassy's earlier information. end note)

21. (U) Nguyen Dinh Huy (alias Ngo Tran Huan, Nguyen Viet
Thanh, Viet Huy): Born 1932. Arrested 17 November 1993 for
"attempting to overthrow the government" as provided for
under Article 79 of Vietnam's Criminal Law. Received life
sentence, later his sentence is reduced to 20 year
imprisonment. Now serving his term at Xuan Loc prison, Dong
Nai province. In good health. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Huy was imprisoned only in May 1996 but suffers
from Parkinson's disease.)

22. (U) Nguyen Ngoc Tan (alias Pham Tu San, Pham Thai),
born 1921. Charged with "attempting to overthrow the
Government," arrested on February 11, 1995, sentenced to 11
years' imprisonment. He's now serving his time in Xuan Loc
camp, Dong Nai Province. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Tan had been sentenced in August 1995.)

23. (U) Nguyen Khac Toan: born 1955 in Ha Noi. Charged
with conducting spying activities provided for under
Paragraph C, Provision 1, Article 80 of the Criminal Law,
and sentenced to a 12 year imprisonment and another 3 year
on-site surveillance after imprisonment fulfillment. (Note:
Sentenced handed down December 20, 2002.)

Still awaiting trial
--------------------

24. (U) Nguyen Vu Binh: Born in 1968. Binh transferred
state-secret documents abroad. Arrested and his case is now
under investigation to be prosecuted to the court in
accordance with the law. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Binh was detained September 25, 2002. The
charge of passing state secrets abroad is new to us, but not
surprising.)

25. (U) Pham Que Duong: Born 1931. Arrested January 2003
and his case is now under investigation to be prosecuted to
the court in due process of law. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Duong had been detained in Ho Chi Minh City on
December 27, 2002 and is believed to be detained in B-14
prison near Hanoi. Foreign media reports have suggested the
charge against him will be espionage.)

26. (U) Nguyen Dan Que: Born 1942. Arrested on 14 June
1990. Sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment on charge of
"attempting to overthrow the Government." Released on the
occasion of the amnesty of 2 September 1998. Arrested on 17
March 2003 on violation of Article 80 of the Penal Code.
His case is now under investigation to be prosecuted to the
court in due process of law. (Per Embassy's earlier
information, Dr. Que is in detention near Ho Chi Minh City.
His family has not been allowed to visit him.)

27. (U) Tran Van Khue (Tran Khue): Born 1936. Arrested
in January 2003 and waiting for trial. (Per Embassy's
earlier information, he was actually detained in Ho Chi Minh
City December 28, 2002 and is believed still to be in HCMC.
Foreign media reports have suggested the charge against him
will be espionage.)

Unclear status
--------------

28. (U) Le Quang Liem: ex-lieutenant colonel of he
quisiling (sic) regime of the "Republic of Vietnam," ex-
president of the Democratic Social Party, ex-governor of
Khanh Hoa province. In the past (1972), Liem established
his own congregation. He was sacked by the Church
afterward. After the Hoa Hao Buddhism had elected its
Representative Board of the Hoa Hao Buddhism Congregation,
Liem was invited to take part in the Congress of the Board.
He came to the event without recognizing the Board and asked
to establish his own Congregation. Hoa Hao Buddhist monks
opposed him. On the occasion of the foundation of the Hoa
Hao Buddhism (30 March 2000), Liem masterminded some
sabotaging activities, including the attempt to create
blasts at the worshipping site of Huynh families and An Hoa
Pagoda to complicate the situation and blame the authorities
for crack-down on Hoa Hao Buddhist monks, provoking
extremist monks to set themselves in fire for martyrdom.
(Per Embassy's earlier information, Liem founded and chaired
the non-recognized Hoa Hao Central Buddhist Church and was
placed under Administrative probation in late March 2001.)

29. (U) Nguyen Thanh Giang: Born 1936. Giang is living
as a free citizen in Hanoi without being put under
surveillance as purportedly said.

30. (U) Hoang Tien: Is a free citizen in Hanoi. (Note:
Other reports indicate that his phone line has been severed,
he is forbidden to publish, and is probably under heightened
surveillance.)
BURGHARDT

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