US citizen sentenced to prison in Vietnam for attempting to overthrow state

US citizen sentenced to prison in Vietnam for attempting to overthrow state
© Vietnam News Agency/Reuters

A U.S. citizen was reportedly sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Vietnam court on Monday after he was found guilty of "attempting to overthrow the state" in a trial that last just a few hours.

Michael Phuong Minh Nguyen, 55, was accused of inciting Vietnamese people to join protests attempting to attack government offices, according to Reuters.

His lawyer, Nguyen Van Mieng, told the news service that Nguyen "admitted guilt at the trial and asked the jury to reduce his sentence so that he could soon reunite with his family.”

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"It's such a long sentence," Mieng added. 

The attorney told the BBC that his client admitted that he wanted to incite protests, but denied a more serious charge of planning to bomb government offices. 

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement to Reuters that it is "disappointed" by the verdict. 

"We will continue to raise our concerns regarding Mr. Nguyen’s case, and his welfare, at all appropriate levels," an embassy spokeswoman said. 

Reuters reports that a family member said Nguyen was detained in Vietnam in July 2018 on suspicion of activity against the government. 

Nguyen will be deported after serving his sentence, according to the news service. 

Three Vietnamese men were also reportedly sentenced for related offenses, Reuters and the BBC noted.