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U.S. citizen Nguyen Quoc Quan was reunited with his family in California on Monday morning after College of William and Mary Law School Professor Linda Malone, who served as his pro bono counsel, secured his release.
After being contacted by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, Malone decided to serve as Quan’s pro bono counsel. Malone was in close communication with Quan’s local counsel, with her primary role being to bring attention to his imprisonment and the lack of cause for his arrest.
Quan is a U.S. citizen. He fled Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and “has been an advocate for democratic reform in Vietnam by non-violent advocacy and peaceful means. When he went to Vietnam this past April, he was immediately arrested and detained without charges until fairly recently,” Malone said.
Malone’s “primary role was to bring attention to his situation and that there were no grounds for his incarceration.”
Quan was arrested April 17 at Ho Chi Min City’s Tan Son Nhat Interantional Airport. On Nov. 19 he began a weeklong hunger strike, which brought about Quan’s indictment for attempting to overthrow the government, Malone said. He went on the hunger strike in an attempt to compel the government to either release him or charge him.
For eight or nine months, Quan was held in detention without him being in contact with anyone other than representatives at the U.S. Consulate who contacted him monthly.
“There’s no question that the attention of the media and the public outrage to his imprisonment had a major impact on this outcome in terms of requiring his release and his not going through the trial process,” Malone said.
“I hope his sacrifice will protect not only U.S. citizens who are Vietnamese,” she continued, “but for those who are in Vietnam who face very serious consequences when they try to advocate for these kinds of changes.”
Malone said Quan’s wife was unsure whether he would return to Vietnam, but they hope if he does return, things will be different.