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US Citizen And Yale Graduate Deported From Vietnam After Being Arrested During Protest

Reuters

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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter
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A Vietnamese court ruled Friday that an American citizen who was detained overseas and convicted for participating in a protest in June will be deported back to the U.S.

William Nguyen, a 35-year-old Houston resident who graduated from Yale University was arrested on June 10 by Vietnamese police in Ho Chi Minh. He was protesting a proposed law on special economic zones that would be of potential benefit to Chinese investors.

Nguyen climbed atop a police pickup truck meant to be a road block to protesters, and rallied others to do the same to continue their march from a park near the city’s international airport to the city center, formerly known as Saigon. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Democrats Tried To Block Thousands Of Vietnam War Refugees, Including Orphans)

Video footage of the march showed Nguyen being dragged in the street by plain clothes officers, his face bloody.

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The indictment handed down to him said that his actions “seriously violated public order and badly affected security order, social safety and needs to be dealt with seriously,” according to AP News.

He was convicted of “disturbing public order” and was “sentenced to expulsion and forced to leave Vietnam immediately,” Trinh Vinh Phuc, one of Nguyen’s attorneys, said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Nguyen was given the lowest possible sentence because the courts believed he admitted wrongdoing, saying he regretted breaking the law and would not participate in future rallies and showed remorse, according to NBC News. In contrast, six other protesters were sentenced to two and a half years in prison for similar protests in other parts of the country. Nguyen himself was facing seven years in prison for his conviction but will now be “reunited with his family,” according to Francisco Bencosme, Asia-Pacific advocacy manager for Amnesty International.

Nguyen got involved in the protest in Vietnam despite it being illegal to do so in that country after pursuing studies of Vietnam in university. His mother fled the communist controlled nation to the U.S. in 1979, which peaked his interest in her hometown, according to the Washington Post.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rallied for Nguyen’s release when he visited Vietnam in July, a spokeswoman for the department told the Washington Post.

“This is a stark reminder to the American people that in the past year Vietnam has intensified its crackdown on real or perceived dissidents while this administration continues to deepen economic and security engagement,” Bencosme said to the Washington Post.

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