TWO American-Vietnamese deported for plotting to overthrow the communist Government declared their innocence yesterday, saying they were only trying to help their former homeland. Nguyen Tan Tri, 50, and Nguyen Quang Liem, 45, were expelled from Vietnam last week after spending two years in jail. A security van took them directly from prison to Tan Son Nhut airport where police placed them on a flight to Bangkok, from where they will return to the United States. 'They charged us with forming a group to overthrow the Government,' Mr Nguyen Tan Tri said in Bangkok. 'But we don't want to overthrow the Government. We just wanted the best for the country. We went to try and explain what they could do to develop Vietnam. We just tried to help.' Before leaving Vietnam, they were granted a brief meeting with family members. US diplomats said the two were in good health. The men were sentenced in August to seven and four years jail respectively after they returned to Vietnam to stage a conference on democracy in 1993. The sentencing came days after the signing of normalisation papers between Washington and Hanoi. Vietnam described their crimes as 'very serious violations of national sovereignty and security' but the US launched an intensive lobbying campaign to secure their release. Seven other political colleagues - all Vietnamese nationals - remain in jail. The seven had asked the two Americans for help, thinking they would have a better chance of bringing international experts to address the conference, Mr Nguyen Tan Tri said. He said the group wrote to the Government for permission to hold the conference but never received an answer. 'We wanted many experts to come and talk with the communist people. We wanted the best for the country.' Mr Nguyen Tan Tri said he went to Ho Chi Minh City with Mr Nguyen Quang Liem in November 1993; a few days later they were arrested with the seven Vietnamese. 'They said I tried to form a group to overthrow the Government.' Mr Nguyen Tan Tri, who escaped from Vietnam in 1978, said strong lobbying by his family and the US Government helped secure his deportation before his term was up. Vietnam believes the pair were using the conference as a front to form an executive of the Tan Dai Viet Party, outlawed since communist tanks rolled into Saigon 20 years ago. The group's apparent leader, Nguyen Dinh Huy, remains in jail serving a 15-year sentence. The state press said the pair wanted to install Huy - a 'notorious Saigon reactionary' - as head of the party's new executive. The release marks the first such deportation in recent years, backed by a special agreement between Hanoi and Washington giving US diplomats access to Vietnamese holding US passports.