American detained in Vietnam convicted, ordered deported

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 20, 2018

American citizen William Nguyen will be deported from Vietnam, a court in the country's largest city ruled Friday, after detaining and convicting him for his participation in a protest last month.

United States citizen Will Nguyen (C) is escorted by policemen before his trial at a court in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam July 20, 2018.

William Anh Nguyen, 32, is accused of "causing public disorder" during the mass protests, sparked by concerns that plans to develop economic zones in Vietnam by offering land leases for up to 99 years would be dominated by investors from China.

An Ivy Leaguer from Texas faces up to seven years in jail in Vietnam for allegedly "causing trouble" at a mass protest. "Considering his sincerity, the court did not hand him a prison sentence", a state newspaper report of the court proceedings says.

"We understand from the court's decision that he will be deported after paying a fine", spokesman James Thrower told the Reuters news agency.

Vietnam's constitution allows freedom of assembly, but protests are often broken up by police.

US citizen Will Nguyen is escorted by police before his trial at a court in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam July 20, 2018.

"We are pleased that William Nguyen will be reunited and returning home with his family", said Francisco Bencosme, Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International USA.

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"However, we don't believe he should have been detained and charged in the first place for freely expressing himself and exercising his (human) right to protest", Bencosme said.

A video circulating on the internet following the June 10 protest purportedly showed Nguyen, a Yale graduate, "beaten over the head and dragged into the back of a police truck", his family said in a statement at the time.

The State Department had previously said Pompeo had raised Nguyen's case while meeting with Vietnamese officials during his visit to Hanoi earlier this month.

The Vietnamese government has denied any use of force against Nguyen and has allowed USA consular officials to visit him in detention.

A court official said that Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, admitted to the violation and showed remorse, which resulted in a lenient sentence.

USA lawmakers have been pushing for Nguyen's release since his detention on June 10.

The protest was one of several in the country.

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