Houstonian convicted, deported in Vietnam court is headed home

HOUSTON — A Houston man arrested in Vietnam last month for taking part in a protest will be returning back to the states after being convicted and deported.

Houstonian William Nguyen is studying in Singapore, but was on vacation in Vietnam when he was arrested for taking part in a protest. The protest challenged proposed economic zones that some fear would give Chinese control of Vietnamese territory.

His sister, who had been working to gather support stateside on his behalf, tweeted overnight an excited: “Will is free!!!”

“It was absolutely a relief. It's not only a huge wait but at least we know he`s safe and sound now,” Kenny Nguyen, William’s brother who also lives in Houston, says.

A Vietnamese court convicted William Nguyen of disrupting public order.  Court officials said William Nguyen admitted to the charges and showed remorse, which led to a lenient sentence.  He could have received seven years in prison.

“Initially I was very upset because he didn't go with that intent," Kenny Nguyen said. "When it happened he got detained. It was really unfair he hadn't done anything."

Sen. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and many other representatives signed a letter Thursday, requesting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to get involved in bringing William Nguyen home.  Whether it was media pressure from congressmen getting involved, or the public outcry of the #FreeWilly movement, William Nguyen is headed home safe.

Secretary of State Pompeo tweets out: “I'm tremendously pleased that American citizen William Nguyen will return home to his family from Vietnam.”

“He's on his way home. He's currently in Singapore gathering his things he should be home within a day or two,” Kenny Nguyen tells Newsfix.