July 9, 2018 / 10:02 AM / 12 days ago

Pompeo raises issue of detained American in Vietnam

HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of a detained American man of Vietnamese descent during meetings with senior Vietnamese officials in Hanoi on Monday, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh pose for photographers before a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

Pompeo was in Vietnam’s capital to meet with the Vietnamese leadership and discuss North Korea following two days of frosty talks in Pyongyang aimed at persuading leader Kim Jong Un to give up nuclear weapons.

“The secretary also raised the case of William Nguyen and encouraged a speedy resolution to his case,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands before boarding his plane at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

William Anh Nguyen was detained last month in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City following mass protests sparked by concerns that plans to develop economic zones by offering land leases for up to 99 years would be dominated by investors from China, with which Vietnam has a history of fractious ties.

Nguyen was “gathering and causing trouble” in Ho Chi Minh City and was filmed on camera urging others to climb over barricades, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

Video footage of Nguyen shared on social media showed he had blood on his head during the June protest.

The Vietnamese government has denied any use of force against Nguyen and has allowed U.S. consular officials to visit him in detention.

Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Neil Fullick

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