Laos

Richard Harris rhh1 at gotadsl.co.uk
Sun Jul 6 14:26:51 MDT 2003


CIA's secret war is revealed as Laos jails European journalists
By Phil Reeves in Bangkok
06 July 2003


International diplomatic efforts are under way to secure the release of two
respected European journalists who were this week given 15-year prison
sentences after setting out to explore a remarkable forgotten legacy of the
CIA's covert operations in the Vietnam War.

The harsh sentences passed in Laos against the Belgian reporter Thierry
Falise, 46, Vincent Reynaud, a 38-year-old French photographer, and their
translator Naw Karl Mua - an American citizen - have outraged human rights
activists and journalists.

But the affair has also proved counter-productive for the Lao authorities -
who preside over one of the world's last surviving Communist regimes - by
throwing a spotlight on a murky conflict that they prefer to deny exists.

The journalists, who entered the country on tourist visas, were researching
the fate of ethnic Hmong who were hired by the CIA during the Vietnam War to
fight on the side of the Americans against the Communists.

At the height of the conflict, more than 30,000 Hmong were engaged in what
became known as America's "secret war" against the North Vietnamese and
Communist Pathet Lao. Small pockets of them - hiding in the jungle and
mountains of the north - have continued fighting; it appears they are still
waiting for the Americans to come to their aid.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/story.jsp?story=422073





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