Picking up where her predecessor left off, Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, sent a letter signed by the Orange County congressional delegation and multiple other representatives appealing for help from President Donald Trump in freeing an Orange County printing owner jailed in Vietnam.
Last summer, former Rep. Mimi Walters, who Porter defeated in November, also appealed for the release of Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen.
Signers of the latest letter to Trump, who is poised to hold talks in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, include Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, who chairs the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, and Ted Yoho, the Republican leader of the subcommittee.
“We write to you today to ask that you take additional action to secure Mr. Nguyen’s release during your visit to Vietnam later this month,” the letter states. “Given your successful track record of releasing U.S. citizens detained overseas in Egupt, Turkey and North Korea, we hope you can capitalize on the opportunity to safely return Mr. Nguyen to his family in the United States.”
Nguyen was locked up by Vietnamese authorities on July 7 while visiting elderly family members there. Nguyen is being held at the Phan Dang Luu Detention Center in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Although he has not been charged with a crime, the Vietnamese government has confirmed that they are investigating Mr. Nguyen for allegedly violating Article 109 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, engaging in activity against the government,” the letter says. “Article 109 is often used by Vietnamese officials in arbitrary arrests and carries a maximum punishment of death.”
Nguyen is described in the letter as a “loving husband and father, a small business owner, and an active member of his community and church. As a primary caregiver for his four young daughters, his prolonged absence has imposed extreme hardship and emotional trauma on his family.”
Nguyen “is a law-abiding American citizen with no criminal record in the United States…,” the letter reads. “It is unacceptable that Mr. Nguyen, or any American citizen, he detained indefinitely without formal charge and under unsubstantiated circumstances.”
Porter invited Nguyen’s wife, Helen, as her guest during Trump’s State of the Union address.