WASHINGTON, March 18, 2003--Vietnamese authorities have arrested Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, a leading advocate of human rights and democratic reform, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Que, 61, an endocrinologist who has already spent nearly two decades in detention, was taken into custody at his home in Ho Chi Minh City at approximately 8 p.m. on Monday, March 17, according to sources in Vietnam and the United States who spoke on condition of anonymity. He had already been under house arrest since being freed from a labor camp in 1998.

Four hours later, police returned to search Que's home. They seized his computer, cell phone, and a number of papers, the sources said. Que remains in custody at 23 Nguyen Van Cu Street in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon--the office of the central Interior Department for southern Vietnam. No further details were available.

Separately, on Sunday, March 16, the authorities handed a new two-year "administrative detention" or house arrest order to Le Quang Liem, elderly chief of the outlawed leadership of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, in Ho Chi Minh City. The Hoa Hao sect evolved in the mid-20th century and exhorts followers to pursue a simpler, purer Buddhist life. Its leaders have previously been at odds with the Vietnamese authorities.

Que was released after eight years in detention in 1998. He refused a government offer to resettle in the United States. A graduate of Saigon medical school, Que was dismissed from his post as a hospital director in 1978 for criticizing Vietnam's health care system and policies. He was arrested the same year and detained for 10 years without trial.

After he was released in 1988, he was rearrested in 1990 for advocating freedom and democracy. He was later sentenced to 20 years' hard labor and five years' house arrest, but he was freed in 1998 as part of an amnesty. He has remained under heavy surveillance since.

U.S. legislators have previously nominated Que for the Nobel Prize for Peace. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch last year awarded Que its Hellmann/Hammett cash grant for repressed authors

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. #####


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