Democracy activist Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan returns to California after release from Vietnamese prison

7:40 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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Mathematician Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan

ELK GROVE, CA - An international crisis came to an end after an Elk Grove man was released from a Vietnamese prison.

Mathematician Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan had been behind bars since April, accused of trying to overthrow the government. Quan went to Vietnam to teach non-violent protest in the hopes of spreading democracy, but as soon as he landed at the airport, authorities threw him in jail.

His wife, Mai Huong Ngo made a Christmas video asking for help.

"My wish for this Christmas is to have my husband home with me," Ngo said in the video.

After months of diplomatic pressure, Ngo finally got the news that her husband was coming home.

"I'm so worried that he will face trial in Vietnam, but somehow last night, suddenly, they released him," Ngo said. "I'm so happy."

This is the second time the communist government has taken Quan into custody. In 2007, Quan tried to distribute fliers on civil disobedience when he was charged with terrorism. Supporters welcomed him home six months later.

News of his latest release comes as a thrill for many in Sacramento's Little Saigon district. Family friend and radio host Nancy Tran feels Quan's release could also be a big boost to pro-democracy efforts in Vietnam.

"This is a celebration for all of us because his release means what to all of us?" Tran said. "It means that this government cannot just do whatever they want to do anymore. We the people have the power to change things."

As she prepares to welcome her husband home, Ngo hopes this will be the last time the struggle will be so hard-fought.

"I hope that the next time when he gets back to Vietnam that everything already changed," Ngo said.

Quan's plane is scheduled to land Wednesday night in Los Angeles where he will spend the next few days with family; then he'll be back in Elk Grove where loved ones are already planning a welcome home celebration.


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