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Vietnam Convicts, Deports Houstonian Who Joined Protest

A court official said that William Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, admitted to the violation and showed remorse, which resulted in a lenient sentence

William Nguyen, left, with his sister Victoria are seen in this undated family photo.

A Vietnamese court on Friday convicted a Houston man of disturbing public order after he took part in a rare protest and ordered him deported.

William Nguyen was arrested June 10 during protests in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City against a proposed law on special economic zones that many said would benefit Chinese investors.

A court official said that Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, admitted to the violation and showed remorse, which resulted in a lenient sentence. He had faced up to seven years in prison.

Demonstrations in communist Vietnam are uncommon and often broken up by plainclothes police.

Six Vietnamese have been sentenced to up to 2 ½-years in prison for the protest and more are awaiting trial.

The protest was one of several in the country. It concerned three special economic zones, where according to proposed legislation, land could be rented for up to 99 years. The passage of the law was postponed to allow more research.

Mistrust of China runs deep in Vietnam, one of the most outspoken critics of Chinese construction and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea’s disputed waters. Anti-Chinese riots in 2014 left four people dead and more than 100 injured.

  • William Nguyen (first from the lefT) poses in this undated photo with his mother and his sister Victoria and his older brother. (Photo Credit: Photo: Victoria Nguyen)
    William Nguyen (first from the lefT) poses in this undated photo with his mother and his sister Victoria and his older brother. (Photo Credit: Photo: Victoria Nguyen)
  • William Nguyen, left, with his sister Victoria are seen in this undated family photo. (Photo Credit: Photo: Victoria Nguyen)
    William Nguyen, left, with his sister Victoria are seen in this undated family photo. (Photo Credit: Photo: Victoria Nguyen)
  • Vietnamese protesters shout slogans against a proposal to grant companies lengthy land leases during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 10, 2018. (Photo Credit: Kao Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images)
    Vietnamese protesters shout slogans against a proposal to grant companies lengthy land leases during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 10, 2018. (Photo Credit: Kao Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images)
  • A motorist looks at charred vehicles burned by protesters at a fire and police station in the south central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam on June 12, 2018.AP
    A motorist looks at charred vehicles burned by protesters at a fire and police station in the south central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam on June 12, 2018.AP
  • A row of charred vehicles is seen at the fire and police station in the south central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam on June 12, 2018.AP
    A row of charred vehicles is seen at the fire and police station in the south central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam on June 12, 2018.AP