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Vietnam sentences Tampa man to prison

By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN
Published November 11, 2006


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TAMPA - A South Tampa welder on trial in Vietnam on terrorism charges was convicted Friday and sentenced to more than a year in prison.

However, Binh Le, 31, and two fellow U.S. citizens who were also convicted, will be released and deported within the month with credit for time served.

The news came a week before President George Bush is to visit Vietnam as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi - a meeting Le's father, Rang Le, credits for the relatively light sentence.

"You cannot comprehend how happy we are," Rang Le said.

His son has been in jail for more than 14 months along with Thuong Nguyen "Cuc" Foshee, an Orlando woman born in Vietnam considered a leader among the Vietnamese-American community.

Foshee's imprisonment got the attention of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who has urged Bush to press Vietnam for her release. He blocked a bill that would grant Vietnam normal trade relations. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the bill on Monday, and with Foshee's anticipated deportation, it could clear the way for it to be considered.

Vietnamese officials linked Le and six others to the Government of Free Vietnam, a California group considered by the Vietnamese government to be a terrorist organization.

[Last modified November 11, 2006, 01:34:30]


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