Mary-Alice Daniel

Vietnamese authorities arrested Yale alumnus and American citizen Will Nguyen ’08 last Sunday for participating in protests against the creation of special economic zones in Vietnam for foreign investors, a plan that has raised concerns about Chinese incursions into the country’s territory.

According to a press statement provided by Nguyen’s close friends and family, his “likely location” is inside the Ho Chi Minh City police ministry.

“Will was present in these demonstrations and for this, he was beaten, dragged, and arrested by the police,” the statement reads. “As an American citizen and peaceful demonstrator, Will is entitled be treated fairly, without fear of bodily and psychological harm.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that videos of the protest show a group of men dragging Nguyen away with a bloodied head. The BBC also reported that, two days after Nguyen’s arrest, Vietnamese police officers raided an apartment that he had booked through Airbnb.

At Yale, Nguyen majored in East Asian Studies and was a member of Davenport College. He is currently a graduate fellow studying public policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, which is affiliated with the National University of Singapore, and he was set to receive his master’s degree in July 2018. According to the statement by Nguyen’s friends and family, Nguyen, the child of Vietnamese refugees, was visiting the country before his graduation ceremony.

The statement said his arrest has been reported to the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, which is “working on the case.”

Yale spokespeople were not immediately available to comment on whether the University will work to secure Nguyen’s release. In the meantime, alumni close to Nugyen have been organizing to advocate for his release.

Mary-Alice Daniel ’08 wrote on the Yale Alumni Facebook page earlier this week that she saw Nguyen, her “best friend of almost 15 years,” just two weeks ago on campus for their 10-year reunion. Six days later, Nguyen was detained in Vietnam. She later gave details on which American politicians she and other supporters are lobbying for help.

“What we are doing today is meeting with Representatives Lownethal [sic], [Lou] Correa, [John] Culberson, and [U.S. Sen. Chris] Murphy, and [U.S. Sen.] Richard Blumenthal,” Daniel wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “At the end of business today, we will know who is the best representative or department for everyone to call.”

Britton O’Daly |