A Vietnamese-American man has returned home to Orange County after being jailed in a Vietnamese prison since July 2018, Rep. Katie Porter announced Monday.
Michael Nguyen, 56, returned home on Sunday, Porter said.
“We are extremely grateful for the many members of Congress, the state department, embassy and consulate staff who worked tirelessly over the past 27 months in behalf of Michael, to reunite him with his family,” Nguyen’s family said in a statement.
Porter, D-Irvine, said she was “relieved that Michael has been reunited with his wife, Helen, and their four daughters.”
“Michael and the whole Nguyen family have shown incredible strength and perseverance,” Porter said. “His arrival home on Sunday was a long-awaited reunion for an Orange County dad and his family.”
Nguyen, whose full name is Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, went to Vietnam to visit relatives in June 2018, but was arrested on July 7, 2018, and held in a jail in Ho Chi Minh City for eight months before being formally charged.
Nguyen’s trial lasted just four hours before he was sentenced to prison for 12 years for “attempting to overthrow the state.”
When Nguyen was sentenced in June 2019, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, accused the Vietnamese government of convicting Nguyen “in the hope it would deter other Vietnamese-Americans from visiting Vietnam and exposing the Vietnamese people to `radical’ ideas like democracy, freedom and human rights.”
Lowenthal said he was “elated” to hear Nguyen had been freed. He thanked Porter for her “tremendous work” on Nguyen’s behalf.
“Michael Nguyen should never have been arrested in the first place and I will continue to advocate for human rights and prisoners of conscience in Vietnam,” Lowenthal said.
Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, who also advocated on behalf of Nguyen, said he was “overjoyed” at the news of his release.
“We never gave up the hope for Michael, and we will not give up until all of Vietnam is free,” Correa said.