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Questions and Answers about the arrest of William Nguyen in Vietnam during U.S. State Department Press Briefing on June 21, 2018


Jun 26, 2018

SOURCE: Excerpt from U.S. State Department

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 21, 2018

Department Press Briefing – June 21, 2018

QUESTION: All right.

MS NAUERT: Elise, go right ahead.

QUESTION: Well – I just will point out that when you do have reports and stuff, you do make citations of what your sources are. But anyway, this question is about Vietnam. Is there anything new about the arrest of William Nguyen in Vietnam? There was a consular visit last week. Has there been a new one?

MS NAUERT: And thank you for asking about the case. This is a case of an American citizen who’s been detained in Vietnam, and I have a little bit of new information for those of you who are following this case. Our consular officers have now engaged with the Vietnamese Government. They engaged, in fact, as soon as they learned of Mr. Nguyen’s case, and as soon as they learned of his arrest. He still has not been charged by the Government of Vietnam. Our understanding of the law there is that Vietnam will conduct an investigation before they actually charge someone. This, I think, is a good reminder that the rules and the laws that we have here in the United States are often very different from the rules and laws in other countries. It’s a good reminder for Americans and all people who travel to other countries that what may seem like a normal law here may not be a normal law in another country, and that you are subject to the laws of the country in which you are visiting. Our consular officers visited Mr. Nguyen at the first available opportunity. The Vietnam Government permitted our consular access to Mr. Nguyen on June the 15th. Our ambassador and other department personnel are now engaged with congressional representatives on his case, and we are continuing our conversations with congressional representatives. We’re deeply concerned by videos that show injuries, and the initial treatment of him on June the 10th. That was in Ho Chi Minh City; that’s the time that he was taken into custody. We’ve made those concerns known to the Vietnamese authorities. His safety, and the safety of all U.S. citizens in the United States – of the United States, rather, is of utmost concern, and we’ll continue to watch for this.

Also, this is a good reminder, and just as a general matter, that when Americans, or anybody for that matter, travel to another country and there’s a demonstration or a protest taking place, those things can very quickly go from something that is peaceful and seemingly peaceful, and it can quickly turn. So we’d just like to caution, take this opportunity to caution American travelers on that as well.

QUESTION: So about those videos – so there was a concern about the treatment in which he was arrested, but when you had your consular visit on June 15th, was there concern about his treatment in prison?

MS NAUERT: I don’t have any information for you on that, but I can just tell you that our consular officers did visit him —

QUESTION: And the family —

MS NAUERT: — and some of that information we would keep private anyway and wouldn’t disclose publicly.

QUESTION: Three congressmen from his district have sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo asking for a meeting to talk to him about it. Do you know if that’s been scheduled?

MS NAUERT: I don’t have any information on that for you.