Almost four months after being detained by Vietnamese police, U.S. citizen Michael Nguyen is still being held in unclear circumstances with no charges filed against him, according to family members and congressional representatives working for his release.
Nguyen, a 54-year-old father of four from California, disappeared on July 6 while visiting friends and relatives in Vietnam, and his whereabouts and condition were unknown for more than three weeks.
On July 31, the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City Franc Shelton confirmed that Nguyen had been arrested and was being held at a detention center in the city while under investigation for “activity against the People’s government,” according to Article 109 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.
No formal charges have yet been filed in his case, and he has not been allowed access to a lawyer or his family, though U.S. embassy staff may visit him once a month, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-California) said in an Oct. 29 press release.
Requests for information on Nguyen’s case, both by herself and other members of Congress, have not been answered, Walters said.
“The Vietnamese government continues to stonewall Congress and the Nguyen family,” Walters said.
“Despite several meetings with the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington D.C. in which I demanded his immediate release, Michael remains imprisoned on baseless charges. The Vietnamese government continues to deny Michael access to family and friends.”
Walters said she remains in frequent contact with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam while working in Congress to build “a bipartisan congressional delegation to increase pressure on the Vietnamese government” to secure Nguyen’s release.
“I will continue the fight and stop at nothing to bring Michael home and reunite him with his family,” Walters said.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Oct. 31, Nguyen’s brother-in-law Robert Mark said that Nguyen’s family has been given no information at all on his case or on any accusations made against him.
“The government there has provided nothing to substantiate their supposed investigation,” Mark said, adding that Vietnamese authorities may be stalling not just to investigate “but maybe create some information” against him.
“Something has to give on this very soon,” Mark said. “They can’t keep holding him forever and ever.”
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.