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BosNewsLife – Four people who regularly visited an Internet chat room and website dedicated to religious freedom in Vietnam have been detained by Vietnamese security forces, an activist told BosNewsLife Saturday, October 29.

“We have just been informed that some of our room visitors, including one American, were arrested in Vietnam by the Security Police Office…” on charges of “attempting to conduct a coup d’etat,” said Calfornia based Anthony Nguyen of The International Movement for Vietnam’s Democracy and Human Rights, which hosts the site.

His movement said it learned that 50 security forces on October 19, raided the Ho Chi Min City home of “Mr. Truong Quoc Huy, with an arrest order to detain” him. “However, for some unknown reason, they also arrested his two brothers Truong Quoc Tuan and Truong Quoc Nghia and Mr. Truong Quoc Tuan’s girl friend, Lisa Pham Ngoc Anh Dao, an American citizen,” who visited Vietnam , Nguyen added in an e-mail message to BosNewsLife.

Neither Vietnamese officials nor the United States Consulate were available for comment.

He said the four had regularly visited a chatroom his group hosts via Paltalk.com, which allows people to participate in discussions on a variety of subjects.

“Our visitors are from Vietnam and different countries who can voice their opinions either anti or pro Communism. Sometimes they just describe the hardships they have been through [or] the better lives they made for themselves in democratic countries,” Nguyen explained.

The four apparently also visited the group’s separate website, tudongonluanvn.com. It was not clear in which prison the group was held. He stressed the “felony of attempting to conduct a coup d’etat,” for which they were apparently arrested “was just a false accuse the Vietnamese Communist authorities always use in their scheme to suffocate the people’s right to freedom of speech.”

About 600 people have so far signed an Internet petition urging the US Consulate General to intervene, Nguyen claimed.

“In his visit to the United States in June 2005, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai pledged with President [George W.] Bush that his regime will respect the people’s right to freedom of speech and religion,” the petition said.

“We sincerely ask you to intervene and demand the release of our American citizen, Ms Lisa Dao, as well as Truong Quoc Huy and his brothers Truong Quoc Tuan and Truong Quoc Nghia, in the spirit of the pledge made by Prime Minister Khai.”

The case was expected to lead to new concern among human rights groups about increased surveillance of the Internet by Communist officials. Several dissidents and journalists, including Christians, are known to have been imprisoned in several countries of Asia, including China and Vietnam , for their comments on Internet.