On October 22, 2002, the Foreign Ministry announced that writer Tran Khue, also known as Tran Van Khue, had been placed under administrative detention, or house arrest, for two years, and that his term had begun on October 9, 2001. Administrative Detention Directive 31/CP allows the government to put individuals under house arrest for two years without due process.
In September 2001, Khue had been active in failed efforts to legally register the independent National Association to Fight Corruption. He had also established online publications, called Dialogue 2000 and Dialogue 2001, which included articles by himself and others advocating political reform. In January 2002, the Vietnamese government ordered local officials to confiscate and destroy all printed copies of the publications.
On March 8, 2002, seven police officers entered and searched Khue’s home in Ho Chi Minh City and confiscated his computer equipment and several documents, according to CPJ sources. On March 10, Khue sent a message via cell phone to a friend indicating that he was in danger. Immediately after the message was sent, all means of communication with Khue were cut.
According to CPJ sources, police had searched Khue’s house for materials relating to an open letter he sent to Chinese President Jiang Zemin during Jiang’s visit to Vietnam in late February 2002. The letter, which was distributed over the Internet, protested recent border accords between the two countries.
On December 29, 2002, about 20 security officials came to Khue’s house and detained him after he met with Hanoi-based democracy activist Pham Que Duong and his wife. The officers also confiscated his computer and computer disks. The day before, Duong was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City train station while he was returning to Hanoi. A government official stated that the two men had been “caught red-handed while carrying out activities that seriously violate Vietnamese laws.” She said that Khue and Duong will be tried but did not clarify on what charges or when the trial will take place.
Although Khue’s administrative detention order expired in 2003, he remained in detention at year’s end.