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Nhu Says CIA Backs Buddhists in South Vietnam

Oct. 17, 1963 - Ngo Dinh Nhu (pictured), powerful and controversial brother of South Vietnam’s President, Ngo Dinh Diem, said today that Buddhists under interrogation have identified CIA agents and other Americans who constantly prodded them to attempt to overthrow the Government. Nhu said CIA agents “may have received orders to do it against their will. Perhaps they did not like the orders, as they did not carry them out very successfully.” Speaking to a group of foreign correspondents at Gia Long Palace, Nhu talked for 2½ hours about what he called the “mess” in South Vietnam. “One thing I don’t understand,” he said, “is why some CIA agents were involved in the Buddhist affair.” He was referring to the Government clash with Buddhists in the wake of Buddhist protests of discrimination and a series of ritual suicides by fire. “I don’t know whether they received their instructions from higher up. I must say that until the Buddhist affair broke, the CIA played an important part in making a winning program against the Communist Viet Cong.” He asserted that CIA agents and members of other U.S. civilian agencies suddenly want to overthrow the Diem regime. Nhu said Buddhists in detention, under interrogation, listed a half dozen of them. He said he would not name them because he does not want to harm the CIA. “Some are still here, and some have disappeared,” he said. “Day and night, the CIA urged and encouraged monks to stage a coup. Trust which existed between the U.S. and our Government in past years has ceased to exist now. This is not only true of Vietnam but of relations of the U.S. with all underdeveloped countries.” Commenting on his wife’s U.S. visit, he said he did not encourage her to go but did not prevent her because she believed she was doing a needed thing and thought it was the “right psychological moment” for the visit when American opinion is focused on Vietnam.


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