Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today released the following statement on the impending trial of an American citizen detained in Vietnam, Mr. William Nguyen. The 32-year-old Nguyen, a graduate student studying in Singapore, was arrested by Vietnamese authorities while taking part in a peaceful protest on June 10 in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) against the Vietnamese government’s economic and censorship policies. Accused of “disturbing public order,” he has been imprisoned since his arrest. His trial is set to take place on Friday, July 20:
“I have been in constant contact with the U.S. State Department since William’s arrest in Vietnam. I have pushed, and been joined by many of my House colleagues, in urging the State Department to pressure the Vietnamese government to release him.
“To be clear, William is innocent of these charges and there is an expectation, if the evidence is considered fairly, that he will be exonerated.
“However, the Vietnamese judicial system’s track record on fair procedures is poor, and unfortunately the courts all too often are an extension of the central government’s desires.
“If the Vietnamese government choses to go down this road – to unjustly imprison William – I predict there will be swift and decisive consequences from the U.S. Congress. Such a decision by the Vietnamese government would almost instantly launch a serious debate on Capitol Hill over potential financial, diplomatic, and political repercussions. It would be a serious miscalculation by the Vietnamese government to believe that we will allow William to languish in a foreign prison for something he has not done.
“We will not stand by and let an American citizen be falsely imprisoned by an authoritarian regime.”