Congressman Lowenthal Calls On State Dept To Work For Release Of Detained U.S. Citizen Michael Nguyen

August 9, 2018
Press Release
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with colleagues in the Orange County House delegation in calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to utilize every resource of the U.S. government to ensure the safe and timely return of U.S. citizen Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen.

Michael, a resident of Orange, California, was detained by Vietnamese authorities on July 7th while touring Vietnam and visiting elderly relatives. He is currently being held at the Phan Dang Luu Detention Center in the Binh Thanh District of Ho Chi Minh City.

In the letter to Secretary Pompeo, the Members note that Michael is reportedly under investigation for "engaging in activity against the People's Government," a spurious charge that is frequently used by the Vietnamese government in arbitrary detentions against not only their own citizens, but foreign visitors. Such "investigations" can often lead to the accused being detained for months or years, often without access to a lawyer or visits with family members.   

"In recent days, the government of Vietnam has increased its crackdown on dissidents and its arrest of peaceful Americans," Congressman Lowenthal said. "It is especially alarming to see more American citizens of Vietnamese descent become the target of the repressive regime. This is unacceptable, and I will work closely with my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle, in conjunction with the State Department to send a clear message to the government of Vietnam that continuing to trample on human rights is not the way to advance US-Vietnam bilateral relations."

As co-chair of the Congressional Vietnam Caucus and a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Congressman Lowenthal has successfully advocated for the release of numerous prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, and was a major voice in the successful U.S. government efforts to bring U.S. citizen William Nguyen home after he was arrested earlier this year during a civil protest in Vietnam.

"I stand with Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen's wife and children," Congressman Lowenthal said, "and I urge the Vietnamese authorities to afford proper due process to Michael, to allow Michael access to his family while in detention, and to quickly release Michael back to his wife and children."

To read the full text of the letter, click here.