A special deportation hearing is being held in Los Angeles this week to determine the fate of six Vietnamese exchange students who are being ordered by the Thieu government to return to Vietnam. The six students, all of whom are fighting extradition, have been active in anti-war activities in the United States since 1972.
The six claim that if they are compelled by the United States government to return to Saigon, they will be imprisoned and even tortured for speaking out against the war while in the U.S.
The six are asking for political asylum in the United States under a provision in the immigration law which provides for protection against political persecution.
Although the hearing on Wednesday will be held by Immigration Department examiners, the U.S. State Department has already recommended that the six be returned. State Department officials say that the Thieu government has promised not to take action against the six students.
The six activists, however, point to a similar case in Hong Kong earlier this year. When a group of anti-Thieu protesters were returned to Saigon from Hong Kong - with the promise by the Thieu government that they would not be prosecuted - they were immediately jailed upon their return. At least a dozen students from the Hong Kong group are reported to have since died in prison.