HANOI, Vietnam – Three U.S. citizens are among seven people who will go on trial in Vietnam this week over an alleged attempt to take over state radio stations to call for an uprising against the communist government, a judge said Tuesday.
The seven face possible sentences ranging from 12 years in prison to death by firing squad, said Bui Hoang Danh, chief judge of the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City where the one-day trial will take place on Friday.
The defendants, who were arrested in September of last year, include three U.S. citizens of ethnic Vietnamese descent: Thuong Nguyen "Cuc" Foshee of Orlando, Fla.; Le Van Binh "Phu" of Tampa, Fla, and Huynh Bich Lien "Linda" of San Gabriel, Calif.
Three Vietnamese nationals from southern An Giang province and a Vietnamese national who is a resident of the U.S. will also be tried, Danh said.
Danh said the defendants are connected to the California-based Government of Free Vietnam, a group run by Chanh Huu "Tony" Nguyen and other Vietnamese exiles, many of them soldiers in the former South Vietnamese Amy. Nguyen was arrested in Seoul in April but later released to the U.S.
The Government of Free Vietnam is considered to be among the more virulent of the many exile groups opposed to Vietnam's communist government, which considers the group a terrorist organization.
Vietnam had requested Nguyen's extradition to face charges of failed plots to bomb the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and state facilities in Vietnam, including a statue of communist leader Ho Chi Minh.
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi declined to comment Tuesday.
In 2001, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced 36 members of the Government of Free Vietnam group to jail terms ranging from three years to 20 years for attempting to blow up state facilities.
The case of Foshee, 58, has attracted attention from Washington. She was jailed on Sept. 8, 2005, while visiting Vietnam as a tourist, according to her daughter, Liz McCausland.
Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, is seeking Foshee's release and has raised her case with the Bush administration. The Washington Post last month reported that Martinez was trying to block a trade bill between the U.S. and Vietnam that Bush wants approved before his visit.
McCausland insists her mother is a nonviolent pro-democracy activist.