Houstonian returns after being jailed in Vietnam for over a month
HOUSTON – Home at last, 32-year-old Will Nguyen, a native Houstonian, is back in the Bayou City after spending more than a month in a Vietnamese jail.
“We slept on cement floor. Our toilet, our sink, our shower was a hole in the ground. We had water that we had to refill every day,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen, a Yale graduate, was studying in Singapore for his master’s degree when he was beaten and arrested on June 10 while taking part in a massive protest during a visit to Vietnam.
Nguyen was accused of causing public disorder.
“Did I ever think I would be detained? No. Did I know I was participating in something sensitive? Yes,” Nguyen said.
When he was first taken into custody, the American student said, the Vietnamese were convinced he was trying to overthrow the government. After about a week or two, he spoke to the American Consulate and was told Congress would be joining the efforts by his family and friends to secure his release.
While he was behind bars, Nguyen said, many of the prison wardens actually apologized to him, saying they had to follow orders from above.
"That was something I sympathized with,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen was facing up to seven years in prison, but a Vietnamese court chose to deport him instead. He was released from Vietnam on July 20.
Nguyen’s family is forever grateful to everyone who helped.
“I want to be able to do everything I can to give back and help,” Victoria Nguyen said.
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