ANNE CHADWICK WILLIAMS / Bee file, 2008

Nguyen Quoc Quan, who spent six months in a Vietnamese jail, is being held for allegedly planning to sabotage celebrations commemorating the Communist victory in the Vietnam War.

Elk Grove man arrested again in Vietnam

Published: Monday, Apr. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 30, 2012 - 8:38 am

Nguyen Quoc Quan, an Elk Grove man who spent six months in Vietnamese prisons in late 2007 and 2008 for championing democracy, was rearrested when he returned to Vietnam April 17.

Nguyen, 58, is being investigated for allegedly planning to sabotage celebrations commemorating the Communist victory in the Vietnam War, said his wife, Huong Mai Ngo.

"I don't think he did anything wrong," said Huong in a telephone interview from Garden Grove, where she's taking care of her mother.

Nguyen, an engineer with two sons – one of them a UC Davis sophomore – told his wife he was going back to visit his sister.

"I was so scared when he decided to go back, but he said if they don't want him they'll just deport him," Huong said. "Why did they give him a visa?"

Huong called the U.S. Consulate, which confirmed Nguyen had been arrested but said that no charges had been filed and that he hadn't been given a lawyer.

Nguyen – a high school math teacher in Vietnam who fled by fishing boat in 1981 – ended up in Raleigh, N.C., earned a doctorate in engineering in 1986 and moved to California.

He is a longtime member of Viet Tan, the International Vietnamese Reform Party branded a terrorist organization by the government of Vietnam. It has strong support in Sacramento.

Nguyen was arrested in 2007 for bringing fliers on civil disobedience and nonviolent protest to Vietnam. A Vietnamese government newspaper alleged he was a terrorist, Huong said.

"It's been 12 days. I cry and I worry, but I know my husband didn't do anything wrong," Huong said.

In May 2008, Nguyen, a U.S. citizen, was convicted of terrorism for distributing 7,000 fliers promoting civil disobedience in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolence movements that helped topple communism in Eastern Europe.

He was sentenced to six months, credited for time served and deported.

When he returned to Elk Grove in 2008, Nguyen told The Bee that he's no terrorist but that he did write the two-page flier, titled "Non-Violent Struggle: The Approach to Eradicate Dictatorship, Set the Stage for Democracy."

The flier calls for widespread civil disobedience and urges protesters to "faithfully maintain the discipline of nonviolence."

Nguyen expressed his love for the activists in Vietnam.

"Those are the true heroes," he said. "I just follow them in my way. I hope all the Vietnamese overseas who supported me will pay attention to those willing to suffer because they'd love to have a country with freedom."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Stephen Magagnini



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