Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Nguyen Van Dai Officially Charged with Subversion, Anti-state Propaganda, Pre-trial Detention Extended

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Defend the Defenders, August 24, 2017

Vietnam’s authorities have officially charged prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 and “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

His assistant Le Thu Ha is charged with the same allegation, and the pre-detention for the two human rights defenders will be extended with maximum 20 months more, said Mr. Dai’s lawyer Ha Huy Son.

In its letter dated on August 23 sent to lawyer Son, the Supreme People’s Procuracy said he will not be able to meet with his client until the investigation completes.

Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha were arrested on December 16, 2015 on charged of “conducting anti-state propaganda.” In late July and early August, Vietnam arrested five other activists namely Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Trung Truc and charged them with subversion, all of them, together with Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha, have been members of Brotherhood for Democracy .

Mr. Ton is the president of while Mr. Truc is the spokesman of the organization. Mr. Dai, Mr. Troi and Mr. Truyen were founders of the online organization which fights for human rights enhancement and multi-party democracy, however, Mr. Truyen left it several years ago.

According to Vietnam’s current law, individuals convicted with subversion may face life imprisonment or death sentence while for anti-state propaganda, the punishment may be up to twenty years in prison.

Since the arrests of Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha in late 2015, foreign countries such as the U.S., the EU and its members and many international human rights organizations have urged Vietnam to free them immediately and unconditionally because they just exercise their basic rights of peaceful expression, assembly and association enshrined in Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution as well as in international treaties in which Vietnam is a country signatory.

Vietnam has intensified crackdown on local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and bloggers few months ahead of the APEC Summit slated in Danang in November.

In July-August, Vietnam convicted two human rights advocates Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Tran Thuy Nga, sentencing to ten years and nine years in prison, respectively. In addition, Ms. Nga has to be under additional four years under house arrest after the imprisonment.