Clinton highlights US concern over missing Lao activist

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Laos on Thursday to mount a transparent investigation into the disappearance of a prominent activist who rights groups believe has been taken into government custody.
"We are deeply concerned about the well-being of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who disappeared one month ago," Clinton said in a statement.
"We call upon the Lao government to pursue a transparent investigation of this incident and to do everything in its power to bring about an immediate and safe return home to his family."
Clinton's personal statement represented a significant increase in pressure from Washington over the case of Somphone, who rights group say disappeared on Dec. 15 in the Lao capital, Vientiane, after being stopped by police while driving his Jeep from the development agency he founded.