HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The uncertainty is over. After being detained in Vietnam for 40 days, Will Nguyen, a U.S. citizen, is back home in Houston.
On Friday afternoon, Will was greeted by family at Bush Intercontinental Airport. On June 10, he was in Vietnam on vacation when he was arrested for taking part in a protest in Ho Chi Minh City. He was charged with with disrupting public order and, if convicted, faced up to seven years in prison.
"I didn’t know how long I’d be there. It really was just day to day living," said Will.
After pressure by U.S. government, Will went to trial on July 20. His family was allowed to be there.
"After the trial, they say the verdict [is] to deport him -- that [was a] great relief," said Vicky Nguyen, Will's mother.
Will's case drew global attention. His sister, Victoria Nguyen, spearheaded social media campaigns to raise awareness about Will’s arrest.
"I want to say thank you for stepping up and reaching out to help him and his cause. A lot of people extended themselves and, as a family, we’re collectively very grateful," Victoria told FOX 26.
Will says his days in prison were spent following a strict schedule. He had to wake up at 5 a.m. to refill water containers for drinking and bathing and was fed twice a day. He passed the time by teaching his cellmates English by translating the state newspaper to English.
He says it's all overwhelming.
"Being in prison for 40 days is a lot, then getting out and realizing it had this much [media] attention, is yet another thing to digest," Will added.
He says during a layover in Los Angeles on his way to Houston, a man recognized him at the airport.
However, Will expressed his work is not over. He hopes his story can draw attention to to human rights in Vietnam.
"I think that it falls upon the second generation Vietnamese Americans, the ones who didn’t live through the war, to more or less explain to [the Vietnamese government], we understand the history. We understand that they are a legitimate government, but at the same time there’s much room to improve," he concluded.
A few hours after arriving in Houston, Will and his family visited U.S. Rep. Al Green. One of many congressional leaders who were also involved in working for Will's release.