Cablegate: Dr. Que Under Detention

Published: Wed 19 Mar 2003 06:32 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E. O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) Poloff visited the home of democracy activist Dr.
Nguyen Dan Que on March 18 to confirm reports of his arrest
received earlier that day. Based on the information originally
provided by his brother in the U.S., and now confirmed by his
wife, it appears that a large number of security officers hustled
Dr. Que off to the local District 5 police station at 8:00 p.m. on
March 17. He was arrested in front of his home, without being
given an opportunity to go inside and retrieve additional clothing
or medications. The arresting officers on the scene accused him
of being on his way to an Internet cafe to publish criticisms of
the GVN. Police returned to Que's home in force just before
midnight the same day to search through his possessions. They
removed his computer and cell phone, as well as assorted documents
and written materials. Several officers took still photographs
and video footage during the search.
2. (SBU) The long, unlit alley leading to Dr. Que's home
appeared largely deserted when Poloff arrived at 7:30 p.m. on
March 18. Dr. Que's wife opened the door only long enough to
quickly usher Poloff inside. She appeared quite nervous and
agitated throughout the conversation. At one point, she sent a
relative out to photocopy the investigation report signed by the
police and family members upon completion of the search. Post now
has a copy of that report. Dr. Que's stepson had been brought to
the police station at 1:30 a.m. that morning to sign the report
and to obtain a legal record of what had been taken from his home.
Dr. Que's brother surmised that Dr. Que must have
characteristically insisted on the police producing a legal
document to entitle them to search. Fortunately, the stepson was
able to see Dr. Que at the time he signed the document. Police
later informed Dr. Que's wife that her husband had been moved to
the municipal jail in District 1, and allowed her to send clothing
and medicine. Dr. Que's wife did not know why the authorities had
decided to detain her husband at this time. She speculated that
it must have had something to do with one of his interviews with
the foreign news media, including Radio Free Asia. His brother
thought it might have something to do with Dr. Que's recent
criticism of GVN claims of a free press in Vietnam.
3. (SBU) During the conversation, Dr. Que's wife made clear that
she and her husband would appreciate any representations by the
Consulate General, in the hopes of gaining his release or
improving his treatment. She expressed concern that he had not
been feeling very well before this latest incident. (Post note:
Dr. Que is an endocrinologist and has been self-medicating an
ulcer and kidney ailments for a long time. His brother sends him
medication from the U.S. from time to time. End note.) Post will
follow up with the relevant local authorities.
4. (SBU) Comment: Dr. Que and his family have occasionally
raised exaggerated alarm bells in the past, but this incident
would seem to be the real thing. Just why the GVN would choose to
raise the stakes with a well-known figure like Dr. Que at this
time is not clear, given that he has been consistently outspoken
in his views over a period of time. It may be as simple (naive?)
as his brother's assumption that hardliners in the GVN hope the
USG would be otherwise distracted by events in Iraq.
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