|Nguyen William Anh
At the first instance trial on July 20, the court said based on evidence, testimony of witnesses and the questioning of the defendant at the trial, there was sufficient ground to conclude that Nguyen William Anh – a 35-year-old US citizen had committed the offence.
Specifically, when taking part in a demonstration in HCM City on June 10 to protest against the draft laws on cyber security and special administrative-economic units, Nguyen William Anh had jostled and disturbed barriers placed in the way by authorised forces, climbed onto police trucks, removed police motorcycles to clear the path for the demonstrators to move through, and called on other demonstrators to do the same.
The defendant himself had known that demonstration in Vietnam was illegal. In addition, Anh had not carefully studied the two draft laws but still returned to Vietnam to participate in the protest.
At the court, Nguyen William Anh admitted the actions as stated in the indictment. He said he only came to know about the draft laws through the Internet and online social networks. The defendant expressed his regret at the actions and appealed for leniency, noting that he wishes to return to Vietnam to contribute to the country in the future.
The judging council said that, as the defendant is a foreigner and was committing a first time offence in Vietnam, they decided to cancel his temporary detention and force him to leave the country when the verdict takes effect.
According to the indictment, since 2016, Nguyen William Anh, who was pursuing a Master’s degree in Singapore, usually followed news about Vietnam via social networking websites, which is where he found information about the rally against the draft laws on cyber security and special administrative-economic units.
Before returning to Vietnam, Nguyen William Anh contacted two people holding the accounts “Vi Tran” and “Anthony T. Nguyen” on social networks to discuss the forms and methods for taking part in demonstration in Vietnam. Anh told Anthony T. Nguyen of his intention to not carry personal identification papers, resist authorised forces, and flee the scene if the protest became obstructed.
On June 9, Nguyen William Anh entered Vietnam via Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
At about 9am of June 10, he came to the vicinity of Hoang Van Thu Park to join the protest. When the rally was impeded by barriers made by authorised forces at the intersection of Nguyen Van Troi street and a railway in Phu Nhuan district, he called on other people to break through the barriers and keep moving towards the city’s centre.
At 1pm the same day, the demonstrators were obstructed by four police pickups at the Nam Ky Khoi Nghia-Le Chinh Thang intersection in District 3. Nguyen William Anh incited other protestors to overcome the trucks, shake to overturn the vehicles and move police motorbikes to clear the path for the rally.
Nguyen William Anh had made it 10m beyond the truck barricade when he was arrested and was taken to the police station. On June 12, he was put into temporary detention by HCM City police.