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Cablegate: Dissidents Charged with Attempting to Overthrow Government

VZCZCXRO5140
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #0673 3481039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141039Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6155
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 4050
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 6398

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000673

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL VM
SUBJECT: DISSIDENTS CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTING TO OVERTHROW GOVERNMENT

REF: A) HANOI 820 B) HCMC 651 C) HANOI 633 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Post has learned that jailed lawyer Le Cong Dinh and
democracy activists Nguyen Tien Trung and Tran Anh Kim have been
charged with attempting to overthrow the GVN under Article 79, a
national security provision that carries the most severe
penalties under the law -- twelve and twenty years in prison,
life imprisonment, or even capital punishment -- for
"organizers, instigators and active participants" of anti-GVN
activities. "Accomplices" face between five to fifteen years in
prison. These penalties are much more severe than those under
Article 88, "propagandizing against the state," which normally
carries a sentence of three to twelve years. (Note: Dinh, Trung
and Kim were all originally charged with violating Article 88
when arrested. Additionally, their televised confessions aired
in June and August focused on their admission of violating
Article 88 and not Article 79 (ref A). END NOTE.)

2. (SBU) Dinh and Trung's family members visited them in
detention this past week and told ConGenoff they are in good
health, though Dinh's wife said he has lost weight. Nguyen Tien
Trung's parents have secured a defense lawyer who has been
approved to represent him in court (ref B). Le Cong Dinh plans
to defend himself. Post has been unable to confirm legal
arrangements or charges being brought against Tran Nguyen Duy
Thuc, but have heard from the family of Tran Anh Kim that they
too anticipate that he will be tried by the end of the year
under Article 79 (ref C).

3. (SBU) While many NGOs outside Vietnam have speculated that a
trial will be held on Christmas Day because it would make a high
level of international media attention and the presence of
foreign observers less likely, family members and legal counsel
for Dinh and Trung said they have not yet received notification
of trial dates. Dinh's wife said she expected any trial would
occur soon over several days, making Friday the 25th an unlikely
start date.

4. (SBU) Post has submitted a diplomatic note requesting
authorization to observe the trials.

5. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.

FAIRFAX

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