David Truong, 32, was born into one of South Vietnam's wealthiest families. He came to the United States in 1964 to study at Stanford University - to become, he would later say, a member of his country's ruling class and to drive a Mercedes Benz.

But Truong charted a different path after his father, Truong Dinh Dzu, was jailed after running, unsuccessfully, on a peace ticket against then-president Nguyen Van Thieu in 1967.

Young Truong became a well-known antiwar activist in the United States. Drew Pearson called him "probably the most effective" young opponent of the war, and, according to Truong, introduced him to influential people on Capitol Hill, some of whom considered him a valuable source of what was "really" happening in South Vietnam. Truong said much of his information came from his well-connected father.

In 1975, he formed a Washington organization called the Vietnamese-American Reconciliation Center, but interest in his country had all but evaporated on Capitol Hill, and he received a cold reception from Vietnamese refugees, most of whom were staunchly anti-Communist.

At the time of his arrest, Truong was, working as a $9,000-a-year mailroom superintendent at the Animal Health Institute while studying economics at George Washington University.