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Vietnam Sentences US Citizen to 12 Years

Michael Nguyen accused of trying to overthrow government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2019 12:37 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2019 2:33 AM CDT
Michael Nguyen stands during his trial, Monday, June, 24, 2019, in Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam.   (Nguyen Thanh Chung/Vietnam News Agency via AP)
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(Newser) – A Vietnamese court has sentenced an American to 12 years in jail for what was described as an attempt to overthrow the Communist nation's government, the AP reports. The state-owned Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Tuesday that 55-year-old Michael Nguyen was also convicted of inciting people to participate in protests with the intent to attack government offices in the capital, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Two Vietnamese men, Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, 23, and Tran Long Phi, 21, were sentenced to 10 and 8 years in prison respectively for the same charges after a half-day trial Monday. They were arrested last July in Ho Chi Minh City after returning from Hue in central Vietnam, where they had traveled to recruit more anti-government protesters, according to the state media report.

The protests Nguyen is accused of planning did not occur. Nguyen is from Orange County, California, and his wife was a guest of Rep. Katie Porter at President Trump's State of the Union address earlier this year. "I'm disappointed with this outcome, and my heart aches for the Nguyen family, and for our Orange County community," Porter tells the Orange County Register. Nguyen's wife, Helen Nguyen, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the sentence was "a slap to the United States." She said the youngest of their four children cried out "why, why, why" when she heard the news. Protests are rare in Vietnam, where the Communist authorities do not tolerate criticism of the government.

(Read more Vietnam stories.)

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