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Vietnam imprisons US citizen for planning to topple people’s administration

Monday, June 24, 2019, 16:37 GMT+7
Vietnam imprisons US citizen for planning to topple people’s administration
U.S. citizen Nguyen Michael PhuongMinh is escorted by policemen before his trial at a court in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 24, 2019. Photo: Reuters

A Vietnam court on Monday condemned a U.S. national and three of his accessories to years in jail over their plans to resort to force to overthrow the Vietnamese state, including the use of petrol bombs.  

The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Nguyen Michael PhuongMinh, a 55-year-old American citizen, to 12 years in prison for his “activity to topple the people’s administration.”   

His accomplices – Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, a 23-year-old college student, and Tran Long Phi, a 21-year-old from the southern province of Dong Nai – were handed a jail term of 10 and eight years, respectively, for the same offense.

A fourth defendant, 67-year-old Huynh Duc Thinh, who is Binh’s father, was sentenced to one year of imprisonment for “failing to report criminals.”

The four defendants all admitted to their wrongdoing as earlier written in the indictment, saying that they knew inciting protests, stockpiling weapons, and planning to resist law enforcement officers are unlawful.

PhuongMinh confessed at the court that he first entered Vietnam in early 2004, meeting Le Quoc Phong, who is at large now, to set up an organization in order to carry out propaganda, plan on weapon purchase, incite riots, and attempt to occupy public offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, other places.

Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, a 23-year-old college student, is seen being escorted by police officers at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on June 24, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, a 23-year-old college student, is seen being escorted by police officers at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on June 24, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Binh and Phi said they knew their activities went against the Vietnamese law but they still proceeded with them, as they had formed a misconception about Vietnam due to an overuse of social media.

Binh asked for a commutation of the other three’s sentences.

The court said their confessions matched their testimonies, kept by investigators, and other evidence in the case.

So it concluded that PhuongMinh, Binh, and Phi, together with other subjects, had used Facebook and email accounts to discuss Vietnam’s social and political affairs with some people in foreign countries.   

Those people founded two groups and prepared leaflets, created petrol bombs, and made slingshots to attack police and government buildings, with a view to staging riots to topple the Vietnamese government and annihilate the leadership of the Party.

They also formulated a plan to incite 100 people to join a protest accompanied by a staged traffic jam, to buy weapons to resist government agencies, and to prepare foods and shelters for their long-term fights.

The court said such activities were particularly dangerous, detrimental to society, and directly threatening the existence of the people’s administration and Vietnamese state.

Therefore the defendants had to be severely punished to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence, the court insisted.

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