- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2005

A Vietnam War veteran acquitted of trying to harass the Vietnamese prime minister in June will be tried on a new charge due to pressure from the U.S. Secret Service and Vietnam’s communist government, the veteran’s defense attorney says.

Jerry Kiley, 59, of Garnerville, N.Y., was found not guilty earlier this month in U.S. District Court in the District of a federal charge of trying to harass or intimidate a foreign official.

Mr. Kiley had thrown a glass of wine at Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai’s chair during a June dinner hosted by the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council and the U.S. Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Council in Washington.

His attorney, Kenneth Robinson, said this week that federal prosecutors told him after the trial that Mr. Kiley will be charged with unlawful entry.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hegyi “said that the Secret Service and the Vietnamese Embassy were furious [about the acquittal],” Mr. Robinson said. “They’re putting pressure on, and as a result of that pressure the Justice Department appears to be doing something very unusual.”

The unlawful entry charge, a misdemeanor, would be filed in D.C. Superior Court. If convicted, Mr. Kiley would face a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

Mr. Hegyi, who prosecuted the case, said his office “has not been subjected to pressure from the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam or any member of the Vietnamese government to pursue additional charges against Mr. Kiley.”

Secret Service officials refused to comment. Officials at the Vietnamese Embassy could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Kiley was arrested and originally charged June 21 after sneaking into a banquet at the Mayflower Hotel.

After slipping past security provided by the Secret Service, he ate a chicken dinner worth $1,000 before approaching Mr. Khai, officials said.

According to his own account of the incident, Mr. Kiley threw wine in the prime minister’s direction and accused Mr. Khai of killing religious leaders in Vietnam. He also called U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who had introduced Mr. Khai, a traitor.

In his trial Nov. 9, Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson acquitted Mr. Kiley of attempting to harass, coerce or intimidate a foreign official.

Mr. Kiley — who has been dubbed the “stealth activist” — has slipped past Secret Service security for Vietnamese functions on three occasions, including a 1993 banquet at New York’s Plaza Hotel that Mr. Khai also attended.

In that incident, Mr. Kiley donned an American Legion hat, held a POW flag and shook Mr. Khai’s hand.

His case attracted support from the U.S. Vietnamese community, many of whom suffered under the communist regime.

A defense fund established for Mr. Kiley and Tuan Le, a Vietnamese immigrant accused of punching a Vietnamese diplomat during the June protests, raised $55,000.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide