US Student Held in Vietnam Apologizes on State TV

Texas' Will Nguyen detained June 10 during protest
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2018 11:40 AM CDT
US Protester Held in Vietnam Apologizes on State TV
In this photo taken June 12, 2018, a row of charred vehicles is seen at the fire and police station in the south central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam. Vietnamese protesters clashed with police over a proposed law on special economic zones they fear will be dominated by Chinese investors.   (AP Photo)

Until Tuesday, American graduate student Will Nguyen had last been seen June 10 in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, his bloodied face hidden by a bag as police dragged him away shoeless. His appearance Tuesday on state television, where he admitted to taking part in an anti-China protest, did little to assuage his worried family members back home in Houston, reports the New York Times. While four US lawmakers have called for Nguyen's release from custody, "there is no sense of urgency among [the State Department]" to seek the 32-year-old's safe return following a protest against the leasing of state land to Chinese investors, his sister tells the Washington Post. "He believed this protest would be a peaceful demonstration of civic participation, and for this misconception, he was beaten, dragged and arrested," his family says in a statement.

"I will not join any anti-state activities anymore," the Yale graduate studying at the National University of Singapore said on state TV on Tuesday. "I regret that I caused trouble for people heading to the airport. I blocked traffic and caused trouble to my family and friends." Citing a head injury suffered during his arrest, relatives are especially concerned that Nguyen had yet to see a doctor when a consular officer visited him Friday, per the Post. Noting it's "deeply concerned" by reports about Nguyen's treatment, the State Department says "his safety and the safety of all US citizens is of the utmost concern," and "we will continue to push for continued and regular access by consular officers," per the Times and BuzzFeed. (More Vietnam stories.)

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