Family, friends demand release of American student detained in Vietnam

- An American student and Houston native has been detained in Vietnam for the last 11 days. His family and friends are now making every effort to him back safely. 

Family friend Ted Hogans said he's known Will Nguyen, 32, and his family since elementary school. Hogans said the Yale graduate was on a trip to Vietnam last week when he decided to join a large-scale protest on June 10. Apparently, no one has heard from him since. 

"In the process of that, somehow or another, he was beaten and dragged through the streets of Ho Chi-Minh and ultimately arrested. He's been detained now going on 11 days," Hogans said. 

With no idea of his exact whereabouts, Hogans said Will's family is extremely worried about his well-being. Right now, there's no telling how long he could remain detained.

"He did appear on state television where he was being forced to admit guilt. It appeared as though he may have been under the influence and drugged during that. And then of course when he was dragged through the streets, it was noticeably visible that he had sustained head injuries. He was bleeding," Hogans said.

Communities across the country are now trying to rally enough signatures in an online petition, demanding his release. A Facebook group called "Free Will Nguyen" was also created, hoping to draw more attention to the matter. 

In the meantime, Hogans said Will's family is working diligently to get US officials to demand his release from Vietnamese authorities. 

"Right now, they're just trying to engage State Representatives, Congress and the State Department as much as possible, trying to get them to push for his release," Hogans said.

The U.S. Department of State released the following statement:

The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is the highest priority of the State Department. We are deeply concerned by reports that William Nguyen was injured on June 10 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at the time he was taken into custody by Vietnamese authorities. His safety and the safety of all U.S. citizens is of the utmost concern to the United States.

We have raised our concerns and engaged repeatedly with Vietnamese authorities on this matter. Our consular officers engaged with the Vietnamese government as soon as they learned of his arrest.  The Ambassador and Consul General have raised his case on numerous occasions with their counterparts. The Vietnamese government permitted consular access to Mr. Nguyen on June 15.

We will continue to push for continued and regular access by consular officers to Mr. Nguyen, in the interest of ensuring due process and fair treatment. 

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