The plight of an Orange County printing owner who was believed to have been imprisoned after a trip to his native Vietnam is drawing attention for congressional representatives in the Southland and Texas, officials reported Thursday.
Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, who met with the wife and children of Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen last week, praised her Democratic and Republican colleagues for joining her efforts to bring Nguyen home.
Reps. Ed Royce, R-Brea, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, are also working on Nguyen’s freedom.
“The continued imprisonment of Michael Nguyen by the Vietnamese government is unacceptable and must come to an end,” Walters said. “Throughout this horrific ordeal, the Nguyen family has displayed tremendous strength while relentlessly advocating for his release.
“As I continue to work closely with the state department and U.S. Embassy in Vietnam to help secure Michael’s immediate release, I am thankful my colleagues from both sides of the aisle are joining the efforts to put an end to Michael’s detention,” Walters said. “I will continue to take every action necessary to ensure Michael’s safe and swift return home to his family in America.”
Lowenthal said the Vietnamese government “has increased its crackdown on dissidents and its arrest of peaceful Americans. It is especially alarming to see more American citizens of Vietnamese descent become the target of the repressive regime.”
Lowenthal said it was “unacceptable” and pledged to work with others in Congress to resolve the issue.
“I stand with Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen’s wife and children 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,” Lowenthal said.
Nguyen, 54, who lives in Orange, was “wrongly detained more than a month ago while touring Vietnam and visiting elderly relatives,” said Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“This situation is unacceptable,” Royce said.
Correa said his fellow Orange County representatives can “count on our support.”
Since the Nguyens have family in Houston and Dallas their cause has also drawn the attention of Republican U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who has scheduled meetings with Nguyen’s family.
A change.org petition sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking his help has drawn nearly 50,000 signatures in a week and a half.