US citizens face trial in Vietnam
Three US citizens and four Vietnamese are due to go on trial in Vietnam charged with terrorism.
The seven are accused of attempting to set up illegal transmitters to make anti-communist radio broadcasts inside the country.
The case may complicate ties with the US ahead of President George W Bush’s visit to Vietnam next week and a Congressional vote on trade relations.
The trial in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to last no more than a day.
Local press reports have linked the seven people to a California-based anti-communist organisation called the Government of Free Vietnam.
All of them are of Vietnamese origin.
The three suspects who have US citizenship are Nguyen Thuong Cuc, also known as Cuc Foshee, Huynh Bich Lien, also known as Linda Linh, and Le Van Binh.
Prosecutors have said they plotted to take over the country’s airwaves and broadcast anti-government radio messages.
The case is being heard exactly a week before President Bush arrives in Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific summit.
It may also complicate scheduled votes in the US Congress intended to permanently normalise trade relations between America and Vietnam.
Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, the home state of one of the accused, has threatened to block the bill.
That would be an embarrassment to both governments, which have heralded the bill as symbolising their new partnership.
If found guilty of terrorism, the accused could face sentences ranging from 12 years in jail to the death penalty.
The Vietnamese government is currently trying to extradite a man it calls the leader of the plot, Nguyen Huu Chanh, from South Korea.
An earlier attempt failed. Mr Chanh was one of the founders of the Government of Free Vietnam.