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MIA Hunter, Keeping His Secrets, Chains Self to U.S. Office

June 4, 1995

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ A former U.S. congressman who says he knows where American servicemen are imprisoned in Vietnam handcuffed himself Saturday to the gate of the office that investigates their fates.

Billy Hendon, a onetime Republican lawmaker from North Carolina, met with U.S. officials here but refused to say where he believed the alleged prisoners were kept.

He said he wants to lead investigators to the facility himself.

``I came here today to take the experts to the exact point where the Americans are being held,″ Hendon said. ``Nothing political, purely humanitarian.″

Hendon has claimed before to have evidence of Americans he said were captured by Communist forces during the Vietnam War and are still living in remote camps and jails.

The U.S. MIA office in Hanoi has investigated more than 90 eyewitness accounts of American prisoners since 1992, but none has proven true, said Army Lt. Colonel Melvin Richmond, the office commander.

Saying he feared for his safety, Hendon handcuffed his wrist to the front gate of the MIA office compound. Richmond used bolt cutters to free Hendon from the steel gate and repeated the process when Hendon locked himself to the gate with a second pair of handcuffs.

Vietnamese officials could not be reached for comment.

President Clinton has said Vietnam must do more to settle the MIA issue before he will agree to full diplomatic relations. Hanoi turned over about 300 pages of maps and documents last month that may help.

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