LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A democracy advocate returned home to Los Angeles Wednesday after a 9-month stay in a Vietnamese prison.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Suraya Fadel was at LAX when Dr. Quan Nguyen finally came home.
She asked how the 58-year-old activist felt to be back on American soil. “Look at me,” he said, beaming.
It was an emotional homecoming for the man and his family.
Speaking to his wife, it was hard to keep the tears from flowing. “I love you a lot,” he said, “and always near you and you were close to me in in jail and now closer.”
Nguyen was detained by Vietnam’s communist government for nine months — without a trial. He was charged with being a terrorist.
Nguyen’s son Khoa told Fadel he is just glad to have his dad home. “I don’t think they treated him okay. He complained a lot about the [lack of] food and was placed in solitary confinement and was not even allowed to read. Glad he is still healthy and happy.”
Nguyen’s wife and other son, Tri, told Fadel those nine months were very long and painful. Said Tri, “It’s such a great surprise he is home.”
With no explanation, Nguyen’s trial was postponed and he was unexpectedly released by the Vietnamese — and deported.
His family has a sense of relief.
Nguyen told Fadel about a curious exchange he had with a policeman. “He asked me if I remembered my family, and I said, of course I do.”
Mrs. Nguyen is ecstatic her husband is home. “I am so happy … calm … peaceful. All my fear gone.”
The activist is no stranger to being detained. The nine month ordeal represented the second time he’s been jailed for his non-violent political activism.
He’s dedicated to promote democracy in his native homeland. Nguyen used to be a high school teacher there.
Will he go back? He pauses and says, “I don’t know if i am ready for that.”