American detained in Vietnam after joining protests

An American citizen of Vietnamese descent has been detained in Vietnam after joining a protest over a controversial draft law on special economic zones that protesters fear would favor Chinese investors.

Family and friends say in a statement that Will Nguyen was beaten and dragged into a police truck following Sunday’s protest. The statement issued Thursday says Nguyen was taken to a police station, but his current health condition and whereabouts are unknown.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said Nguyen was being held for disturbing public order.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement that it was aware of media reports that a U.S. citizen had been detained and said it would offer assistance. It decline further comment, citing “privacy concerns.”

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