An Orange County man imprisoned in Vietnam for more than 11 months is set to go on trial in late June, without access to legal counsel since his arrest, family members say.
Vietnamese authorities have been investigating Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, a father of four from Orange, for “actions” to overthrow the government, according to Mark Roberts, his brother-in-law. He said he expects government officials will appoint a lawyer for Nguyen for the trial, which is expected to start on June 24.
Nguyen “is severely disadvantaged and unable to properly defend against any accusations” because “he and his family have not even been formally advised of the actual charges or accusations against him,” Roberts said. “He has also been denied the time to properly address any alleged claims against him.”
Authorities arrested Nguyen in July while he was touring the central city of Da Nang on a visit with elderly relatives. During his confinement, he has been in good health, though only allowed to speak briefly with a representative from the U.S. Embassy once a month, according to Helen Nguyen, his wife.
An operating room nurse, she said she has spent the months during her husband’s absence juggling two hospital jobs, caring for their school-age daughters and lobbying legislators for help. She was invited to President Trump’s State of the Union address in February to call attention to her husband’s plight.
Nguyen’s family believes his arrest “may be lumped together with Vietnamese citizens who may have previously protested groundwater contamination,” Roberts said, adding that they are hoping for a fair trial.
“With the international community watching, including dozens of U.S. senators and congressmen, it is Michael’s family’s hope and expectation that the government of Vietnam will uphold proper international standards of trials and justice,” he said.