US Congressional reps take up case of U.S. citizens arrested in Vietnam

SANTA ANA, California: Three U.S. Congressional representatives have written a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for her help in gaining the release of two political activists arrested in Vietnam.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and Rep. Neil Abercrombie wrote on behalf of the U.S. citizens who were arrested Saturday while holding a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We are disappointed to hear that the government of Vietnam has arrested United States citizens in Vietnam for reportedly having a peaceful discussion,” the letter read.

“Not only do we ask you to work to return these United States citizens to the United States, but we ask you to convey to the government of Vietnam that the arbitrary detention of United States citizens is unacceptable.”

Vietnamese security police detained six pro-democracy activists, including the two U.S. citizens, a French citizen and a Thai citizen, over the weekend, according to the U.S.-based pro-democracy group called Viet Tan.

The two U.S. citizens arrested were Nguyen Quoc Quan, a co-founder of the Vietnamese Professional Society and mathematician who lives in Sacramento, and Truong Van Ba, a community activist who lives in Honolulu.

Viet Tan said Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, a journalist from Paris, France, and Somsak Khunmi, from Ubon, Thailand, were also detained, along with two Vietnamese citizens.

The detainees were having a discussion with other activists about promoting peaceful democratic change before security police arrested them at a private residence in Ho Chi Minh City, according to Viet Tan.

U.S. Embassy officials confirmed that a U.S. citizen was arrested over the weekend but released no further details. They are requesting an interview with him and investigating the reasons for his arrest.


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