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Vietnam welcomes Thai ruling to extradite US anti-communist

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Thursday September 7, 2006

Hanoi- Vietnam on Thursday welcomed a Thai court decision to extradite US citizen Ly Tong to face charges of violating Vietnam's territorial security in 2000 when he dumped anti-government pamphlets on Ho Chi Minh City. "The decision made by the Thai court is totally in conformity with Thai law, Vietnamese law and international law," government spokesman Le Dung told reporters at a briefing.

"The acts committed by Mr Ly Tong were dire violations of the national sovereignty, national security and Vietnamese law," Dung said. "The decision made by the Thai court will be a preventive measure to prevent the same acts from occurring again."

In November 2000, Ly rented a private plane from the Hua Hin beach resort in southern Thailand and, without permission, flew it to Ho Chi Minh City, 750 kilometres away, where he dropped anti-government leaflets on the former capital of South Vietnam.

Former US president Bill Clinton was paying a historic visit to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, at the time of Ly's stunt.

Ly, a former air marshal in South Vietnam's military, was arrested upon his return to Thailand

The Thai court ruled for Ly's extradition despite there being no extradition treaty between Thailand and Vietnam on the grounds that the defendant had admitted his guilt to the non-political charge of territorial violation.

Vietnam has sent the court a letter confirming that it will not charge Ly on political grounds, a court official said.

After receiving the extradition ruling, Ly told reporters that he was willing to go to Vietnam to defend himself.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur