HCM City Court to Try American Michael and Two Vietnamese Activists on Subversion Accusation

 From left to right: Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, Quoc Bao, Tran Long Phi and Michael Minh Phuong Nguyen

Defend the Defenders, June 9, 2019


The People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City will hold the first-instance hearing on June 24-25 to try Vietnamese American Michael Minh Phuong Nguyen and two local activists named Huynh Duc Thanh Binh and Tran Long Phi on allegation of “Activities against the people’s government” under Article 109 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

In addition, Mr. Huynh Duc Thinh, a former prisoner of conscience and the father of Binh, will also be tried for misprision under Clause 1 of Article 390 of the same code.

Mr. Binh, 23, will be protected by lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng while assigned lawyer Doan Trong Nghia will provide legal assistance for Phi, also 23, and the American citizen.

The trio will face hard imprisonment of between 12 and 20 years in prison while Mr. Thinh’s imprisonment will be between six and 36 months in jail.

The trio was kidnapped by security forces on July 7, 2018 after touring the central region. Mr. Thinh was detained one day later. The police in HCM City publicized their arrests and detention one week later.

Three of them were held incommunicado for nine months while Mr. Thinh was released in February but was requested to go to the police’s station to report every week. His seedling shop in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong was confiscated as the police said it was used for the gathering of “reactionary individuals.”

Phi and Binh participated in the mass protests against two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security in HCM City and Dong Nai province in mid-June last year. However, Michael came to visit Vietnam in late June 2018.

Their arrests were part of the ongoing crackdown on Vietnamese activists. Last year, Vietnam arrested at least 27 activists and convicted 41 human rights defenders, political dissidents, and bloggers with total imprisonment of 303 years in prison and 69 years of probation. In addition, more than 100 participants in peaceful demonstrations in 2018 were sentenced to between eight months and four years and a half in jail.

According to Defend the Defenders’ statistics, Vietnam is holding 229 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies of holding prisoners of conscience but only law violators.