Image Caption: Yale graduate Will Nguyen is released by Vietnam after more than a month in detention for joining a protest against ‘special economic zones.’
For American citizen Will Nguyen, a deportation sentence means being reunited with his family. In a Vietnamese court on Friday, July 20th, Nguyen was convicted of “disturbing public order,” a charge that carried a sentence of up to seven years in prison. However, the court said that because Nguyen had “admitted wrongdoing and showed remorse,” he would merely be expelled from the country.
Will Nguyen was detained on June 10th for his participation in a protest against a proposed bill to open up new special economic zones to foreign, and predominantly Chinese, investment. He and may other demonstrators were beaten by police officers wearing civilian clothing and arrested. The Vietnamese legislature has decided to delay the bill after the enormous public outcry against the possibility of Chinese companies buying land in Vietnam for up to 99 years.
After receiving a letter from members of Congress urging him to do so, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Will Nguyen’s release with Vietnamese leaders when he visited the country at the beginning of July. Some of Nguyen’s family members flew to Ho Chi Minh City to be present at his trial, and said that he was physically healthy and remained composed after his forty days of imprisonment. He is now recovering with his family in Singapore.