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Vietnam Convicts Activists of Terrorism


A Vietnamese court has convicted three democracy activists, including one American citizen, of planning to commit terrorism. The three are members of a group called the Viet Tan Party, based outside Vietnam. Matt Steinglass has more from Hanoi.

The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced U.S. citizen Nguyen Quoc Quan to six months in prison on terrorism charges. Since Quan has been in prison since last November, that means he will be released shortly, said Presiding Judge Vu Phi Long.

Long says Quan will be deported to the United States in four days. He says a second defendant, Nguyen The Vu, was sentenced to time served and released, while a third, Vietnamese-born Thai citizen Somsak Khunmi, will have to spend another three months in jail.

Quan, Vu, and Khunmi were arrested in November in Ho Chi Minh City, along with two other foreign activists. All are members of the Viet Tan Party, an exile Vietnamese democracy group.

They said they were organizing to promote multi-party democracy. But Vietnam considers the Viet Tan Party a terrorist group.

Vietnam expelled the other foreign activists in December, but continued to hold Quan, who it said had entered Vietnam on a false Cambodian passport.

Quan's lawyer, Tran Vu Hai, said Quan denied the terrorism charges, but admitted having violated Vietnamese law.

Hai says, while some people may be unhappy with the charge of "terrorism", the sentences were acceptable. He says the court wanted to show groups like Viet Tan that plan to operate in Vietnam that their activities will not be allowed by Vietnamese authorities.


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