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Cablegate: Pastor Reported Detained On Cambodian Border

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

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 001123

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KIRF VM HUMANR ETMIN RELFREE
SUBJECT: PASTOR REPORTED DETAINED ON CAMBODIAN BORDER

1. (SBU) Embassy and Congen have received reports over the
last few days that Pastor Tran Mai was detained on August 29
while attempting to enter Vietnam from Cambodia in the
border town of Chau Doc, An Giang province. Pastor Mai is a
leader of the Inter-Evangelistic Movement in Ho Chi Minh
City, an unrecognized Protestant denomination associated
with the (also unrecognized) Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship.

2. (SBU) According to these reports, Pastor Mai was
returning from a trip to the United States. The Pastor, and
a number of his colleagues, are reported to regularly use
the Cambodian border rather than Tan Son Nhat International
Airport when departing or returning to Vietnam. (It is
unclear to us what procedures or travel documents are used
for this border crossing. HCMC issued Mai a visa in his
Vietnamese passport this spring. However, we understand
that this trip is sometimes made with a border crossing card
that is intended for one day travel within the border
region.)

3. (SBU) Mrs. Truong Thi Lieu (protect), Pastor Mai's wife,
informed Embassy Hanoi Poloff that HCMC police had told her
that Mai would be freed "soon," and that Chau Doc police had
told her Mai would be released after they "cleared up some
issues." She said she knew of no specific reason why he
should be detained at this time, and said he was not
carrying religious tracts or other illegal items. Mrs. Lieu
speculated that the police were concerned about his
international travels, and added that she had heard
authorities viewed Mai with concern as a result of his
prominent role in the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship.

WINNICK

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