Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) today spoke on the House floor about the urgent need to free Michael Nguyen, a U.S. citizen being detained in Vietnam.

Below are Chairman Royce’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“I want to thank my colleague, Mimi Walters, for organizing today’s Special Order and for her tireless advocacy for the release of her constituent Michael Nguyen.

Mimi, we’re not going to let up until Michael is home.

For years – currently as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and previously as co-chair of the Vietnam Caucus – I have worked hard to bring Vietnam’s very troubling human rights record to light. Unfortunately, Vietnam ranks 175th out of 180 countries for press freedom, behind Cuba and Iran. That’s truly awful company to hold.

But today, we’re not here because of Vietnam’s abuses of its own people, reprehensible as they are. Today, we are speaking out on behalf of a U.S. citizen –  Michael Nguyen of Orange, California, who was detained on July 7 while touring Vietnam and visiting elderly relatives, something he does every year.

We have been informed that he is under investigation for ‘engaging in activity against the People’s Government,’ a spurious charge that the Vietnamese Government frequently uses to justify arbitrary detentions.

Michael is deeply missed by his wife and four daughters, the youngest of whom is only eight years old. Michael’s family has seen their entire lives turned upside down because of this senseless ordeal.

Michael is a loving husband and doting father – a man who makes breakfast for his daughters every morning and enjoys taking them to school, dance classes and sports practices. As school begins again back here in the United States – usually a time of excitement but also nervousness for young students – my heart especially goes out to his girls who are being forced to navigate the new school year without their father.

And while his family suffers without him at home, Michael remains detained in a Vietnamese prison. While in detention, he is provided only one meal a day, and is allowed to buy an extra bowl of soup per day from the canteen. Michael is 54 years old. He should not be subjected to such treatment.

It is imperative that we speak out because Michael could be detained for months on end. Some prisoners are held for years on these bogus charges. This situation is deplorable.

Michael’s case is an egregious example of Vietnam’s troubling history of arbitrary arrest. Many fear for Michael’s safety. I do.

The United States has a growing relationship with Vietnam, particularly in the security and trade arenas. However, human rights remain a core value to the United States and we cannot separate them from our ongoing engagement with the Vietnamese Government.

If you abuse our citizens, there will be consequences. All levels of the U.S. Government should make every effort to ensure Michael returns safely to his family without delay.”