Hanoi, July 20 (IANS) A court in Vietnam has ordered the deportation of a US student arrested at a demonstration that turned violent.
William Nguyen was found guilty of “causing public disorder” following his detention in June from a protest in Ho Chi Minh City against new economic zones that demonstrators believed will be dominated by Chinese investors.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised Nguyen’s case with Vietnamese officials, the BBC reported on Friday.
Authorities detained more than 100 people as the demonstration turned violent with the use of rocks and petrol bombs. Six Vietnamese nationals were also jailed.
Nguyen was to be deported immediately after the one-day trial on Friday. The US Embassy in Hanoi said it was pleased with the outcome. Otherwise, the maximum sentence for the 32-year-old would have been seven years in prison.
“The jury acknowledged that the defendant admitted his illegal activities. Considering his sincerity, the court did not hand him a prison sentence,” a state newspaper report of the court proceedings said.
Nguyen, a Yale graduate from the state of Texas, was visiting Vietnam when he began documenting the demonstrations. He joined protesters in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, tweeting “how enormous of an achievement” the demonstrations were for the Vietnamese people.
According to his family and friends, Nguyen was “beaten over the head and dragged into the back of a police truck”. The state media said he was “causing trouble” but the government has denied using force against him.
The proposed economic law would give foreign investors 99-year leases on land in three designated special economic zones across Vietnam.
Protesters believe the bill — the passage of which has been delayed — will allow Chinese companies to take control of Vietnamese land.