September 4, 2018
Contact: T.W. Arrighi
Rep. Mimi Walters Leads Congressional Delegation to Demand Vietnam Release Michael Nguyen
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-California) led a Special Order on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to call on the Vietnamese Government to immediately release Michael Nguyen. The congressional delegation included House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California), Rep. Lou Correa (D-California), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-California), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-California), and Rep. Al Green (D-Texas). Watch and read Rep. Walters’ remarks below.
On July 7, 2018, Orange County, California resident Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, a 54 year old father of four, was imprisoned by the Vietnamese government without cause. The U.S. Department of State confirmed he is being held at a detention facility in Ho Chi Minh City, where he is reportedly in fair health with no visible signs of abuse. On July 31, 2018 and August 17, 2018, the U.S. Department of State received consular access, which allows U.S. diplomats to visit with Mr. Nguyen. Rep. Walters remains in constant contact with his family, the U.S. Department of State, and all parties involved.
Click the image above to watch Rep. Walters’ remarks
“Mr. Speaker, we gather here this evening to demand the immediate release of Michael Nguyen, an American citizen and Orange County resident, who has been detained by the Vietnamese Government for nearly two months without cause.
“Michael, a loving husband and father of four, owns a small printing business and is actively involved in his community and church. He is a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record in the United States.
“Michael traveled to Vietnam on June 27, 2018, to visit family and friends. When he did not return home on July 16th as planned, his family grew worried and contacted my office.
“They learned through social media Michael had been imprisoned by the Vietnamese Government. On July 31st the State Department was able to confirm Michael’s detainment.
“We now know he has been imprisoned for allegedly violating Article 109 of the Vietnamese criminal code, activities against the government.
“Article 109 is an arbitrary and vague charge the Vietnamese Government often uses to justify baseless arrests. Michael could be held for months without formal charges as the Vietnamese Government investigates.
“During this time, Michael will be denied access to an attorney or direct communication with his family. State Department officials are only allowed to visit Michael once a month.
“The Vietnamese Government has refused repeated requests to provide my office with evidence to substantiate Michael’s arrest.
“In a perversion of justice, the Vietnamese legal system allows individuals like Michael to be arrested and languish in prison before its government even begins an investigation or collects evidence.
“Michael’s detainment is only the most recent example of Vietnam’s troubling human rights record and lack of transparent legal system.
“Earlier this year, the Vietnamese Government unjustly detained William Nguyen, an American citizen of no relation to Michael.
“I am deeply concerned for Michael’s safety and wellbeing, and I demand his immediate release.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Nguyen family’s strength during this trying time. I am inspired by their love for Michael and determination to bring him home.
“Michael’s wife, Helen, is a nurse, who works long hours with many emergency on-call days. Michael’s flexibility as a small business owner allows him to be the primary caregiver for their four young daughters.
“His absence is devastating for the entire Nguyen family. This American family should not have to spend one more day worrying and wondering when Michael will return home.
“Michael’s story has touched many people. Several of my colleagues who have heard of Michael’s detainment have joined my fight to secure his release. I am grateful for their support and their willingness to join tonight’s Special Order.
“We will not stop until Michael is returned home safely and will continue to put ongoing, relentless pressure on the Vietnamese Government. I am committed to bringing Michael home so he may be reunited with his family and will stop at nothing to make this happen.”
Walters represents California’s 45th District and serves on the House Energy & Commerce and House Ethics Committees.