|Nguyen Michael Phuong Minh at court
US citizen Nguyen Michael Phuong Minh, born 1964, was given a 12-year sentence, while Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, born 1996 and residing in HCM City’s District 10, got 10 years in prison and Tran Long Phi, born 1998 and residing in Dong Nai province’s Bien Hoa city, got 8 years.
Nguyen Michael Phuong Minh will be deported from Vietnam after serving his time in prison.
A fourth defendant in the case, Huynh Duc Thinh, who is father of Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, was imprisoned for one year on the charge of not denouncing criminals.
The judging council said the defendants’ acts were especially serious, posing danger to society and directly harming the existence of the people’s government and the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, thus calling for strict punishment.
At the trial, all the defendants admitted to their criminal acts as prosecuted.
The trio Minh, Binh and Phi coordinated with a man named Le Quoc Phong to establish an organisation called “Quoc noi quat khoi”, which drew up plans to buy weapons, conduct propaganda to incite people to join demonstrations and occupy government offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as instigate riots towards overthrowing the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and abolishing the leadership role of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
To carry out their schemes, Nguyen Michael Phuong Minh gave Phong 2,000 USD. Minh also came to Vietnam in August 2017 and March 2018 to meet Binh for discussion. They also maintained regular contact through social media and email. Through Binh’s intermediary role, Minh met Phong in HCM City and Phi in Thailand.
On June 28, 2018, Minh arrived in Vietnam and the group gathered at the house of Binh’s father (Thinh) in Dong Nai to discuss the demonstration taking place in the south central province of Binh Thuan on June 10, 2018. They also drafted plans to prepare petrol bombs and slings for the purpose of attacking government offices, along with leaflets to incite people. Binh was assigned to travel to Thailand to buy the weapons. The group also travelled to Nha Trang (the central province of Khanh Hoa) and Hue (the central province of Thua Thien-Hue) to entice more participants. On July 7, 2018, Minh, Binh, Phi returned to Ho Chi Minh City and were arrested.
Thinh, father of Binh, knew of the group’s plans but refused to take part. However, he did not report the group’s acts to the police.
Phong has fled away and has been named on the wanted list. Besides the sum of 2,000 USD from Minh, Phong also received 300 AUD from Nguyen Van Be Hai who is residing in Australia.
The police are investigating other suspects in association with the case.