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Cablegate: Ambassador Again Raises Viet Tan Amcit Arrest Case With

VZCZCXRO2215
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1978 3251108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211108Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6761
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3981

UNCLAS HANOI 001978

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV CASC CMGT VM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AGAIN RAISES VIET TAN AMCIT ARREST CASE WITH
VICE FOREIGN MINISTER

1. (SBU) On November 21, the Ambassador spoke again with VFM Phan
Binh Minh to renew his protest concerning the arrest of U.S. citizen
Leon Truong. VFM Minh confirmed that Mr. Truong has been arrested
for violating Article 84 of the Criminal Code concerning terrorist
activity, literally "to oppose the people's administration and
infringe upon the life of officials, public employees or citizens."
He noted that the Viet Tan is on the GVN's list of terrorist
organizations. The Ambassador emphasized that the U.S. Government
rejects that allegation that the Viet Tan is a terrorist
organization, pointing out that Viet Tan explicitly advocates only
peaceful means to promote political change in Vietnam. VFM Minh
rejected this assessment. Minh confirmed that he is aware Vietnam's
actions against activists will be a focus of interest in the United
States, including on Capitol Hill.

2. (SBU) When the Ambassador asked how long it would be before
Consulate Ho Chi Minh City is granted consular access to Truong, VFM
said MFA Consular Department has been tasked with addressing this
issue. Earlier on November 21, ConOff met with the Director General
for Consular Affairs Duong Chi Dzung to reiterate the request for
consular access to Truong. ConOff reminded Dzung that the Consular
Minutes between the United States and Vietnam provide for consular
access within 48 hours of notification. Dzung confirmed that Troung
had been arrested on a "terrorism" charge. He also confirmed that
no other Americans had been arrested in connection with this case.
Dzung said that his office was aware of the request for consular
access and would work to ensure that it was granted as expeditiously
as possible.

3. (SBU) Post has prepared contingency press guidance to be used in
the event consular access is granted and a privacy act waiver is
signed over the holiday. The guidance has been forwarded to the
Department for clearance.

4. (SBU) Comment: Today's discussions confirmed that Vietnam is
charging Mr. Truong, but shed no additional light on the whereabouts
of Nguyen Quoc Quan, the AMCIT identified in reports from the United
States as also arrested on November 17. Vietnam's accusation that
Viet Tan is a "terrorist organization" is rooted in both Hanoi's
understanding of the current goal of the organization: the end of
Communist rule; and its history: most reports indicate that some
leaders of the group, which was founded in 1982, once advocated
violence in the pursuit of political goals. The group has recently
explicitly and repeatedly emphasized the non-violent nature of its
tactics. Mission Vietnam stands ready to undertake a consular visit
to Mr. Truong as soon as permission is granted by the Vietnamese.

MICHALAK

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