Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, 55, pleaded guilty in a half-day trial held in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday.
American citizen Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen at the court on June 24. Photo: Baotintuc
A court in Vietnam has sentenced an American-Vietnamese citizen to 12 years in jail for “attempting to overthrow the state” charges under the Penal Code.
Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, 55, pleaded guilty in a half-day trial held on Monday [June 24], local media and Reuters reported.
Nguyen insisted on a reduced sentence to enable him to be reunited with his family, his lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng told Reuters by telephone after the trial at the Ho Chi Minh City court.
“It’s such a long sentence,” said Mieng. “Michael admitted guilt at the trial and asked the jury to reduce his sentence so that he could soon reunite with his family.”
Nguyen will be deported after serving his jail sentence, Reuters reported.
Nguyen was accused of inciting Vietnamese people to join protests and attempting to attack government offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Molotov cocktails and slingshots, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said, citing the indictment.
In response to the conviction, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Hanoi said in an emailed statement “We will continue to raise our concerns regarding Mr. Nguyen’s case, and his welfare, at all appropriate levels,” according to Reuters.
Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam and has lived in the US since he was a child, was detained in Vietnam in July 2018 on suspicion of activities against the government, said his brother-in-law, Mark Roberts.
In February, Nguyen’s wife, Helen, attended US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech in Washington. She was a guest of US Representative Katie Porter, a Democrat who represents part of Orange County, California, where the Nguyen family lives.
The court also sentenced two Vietnamese men namely Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, 23, and Tran Long Phi, 21, to 10 and eight years in prison for the same offence, according to the Tuoi Tre newspaper.
Layer Mieng said the pair would face three years’ house arrest after their jail terms.
“Their objective is to cause riots in an attempt to overthrow the administration of Vietnam and eradicate the leading role of the (Communist) party,” Tuoi Tre cited the indictment as saying.
The trio was convicted for preparing for demonstrations and colluding with accomplices outside Vietnam to report the domestic socio-politic situation via Facebook and emails, according to Tuoi Tre. Hanoitimes