Michael Nguyen, the Vietnamese American man who was imprisoned in Vietnam for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the government,” has been released and returned to his home in California.
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi confirmed Nguyen departed Vietnam last Wednesday and a family spokesman, Mark Roberts, told Reuters through email that he returned safely to Orange County on Thursday.
The 56-year-old independent businessman, who was born in Vietnam in 1964, but grew up in the U.S., was detained by the Vietnamese government in July 2018 while visiting friends and family.
He pleaded guilty during his trial in 2019 for attempting to overthrow the government by allegedly inciting protesters to attack government offices with Molotov cocktails and occupy them. Nguyen was sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to the Orange County Register.
During his incarceration, his family, friends and people who supported him started a Change.org petition addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 20 others to help bring back Nguyen, who is a father of four daughters.
“The message in Michael’s release is public and private pressure on the Vietnam government works when it is consistently applied on cases of dissidents who should never have been arrested, much less imprisoned, in the first place,” said Phil Robertson from the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch.
Featured Image via Change.org