Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) is "outraged" that Vietnam used malware to illicitly monitor the Internet activity of human rights and democracy activists.
The cyberattacks were first reported by Google, which recently shut down its search operations in China after the government attempted to hack into the e-mail accounts of local dissidents.
Sanchez weighed in as the co-chairperson of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam and chairwoman of the House Armed Services subcommittee, which has primary jurisdiction over the nation's cybersecurity.
Of course, it also does not hurt (especially in an election year) that her congressional district includes Little Saigon and scores of voters who intensely hate the Vietnamese government.
"I am outraged by new reports that Vietnam's government has been using the Internet as a weapon against its own people," Sanchez says in a statement released by her office. "Time and time again, President Nguyen Minh Triet has proven he will stop at nothing to silence critics of his regime and shut down the free flow of information and communication in Vietnam."
She further accused the Triet and his government of blocking access to a number of websites, including Facebook and other popular internet forums, in the form of denial-of-service attacks.
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"This is unacceptable conduct from a country that wants to be an international political player, especially one that has promised to adhere to basic human rights standards and the rule of law," says Sanchez.
She revealed she has applied for a visa to visit Vietnam in hopes of meeting with human rights activists "to get their side of the story," and Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications "to discuss the importance of free speech and personally condemn these recent cyberattacks."
(Note to congresswoman: Don't mark that down as your reason for visiting on the visa application.)
In light of the cyberattacks, a government crack down on religious freedoms and other "abuses" against dissidents, Sanchez has urged the State Department to re-designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern and to reassess its trade relations "until President Triet takes concrete action to improve its human rights record," according to her office.