Le Minh The

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Le Minh The

Other Names: Lê Minh Thể

Date of Birth: July 5, 1963

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Driver, Veteran

Areas of Activism:

  • Environment
  • Freedom of expression
  • Sovereignty

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Former Political Prisoner

December 2023:

On Dec. 6, former political prisoner Le Minh The was convicted a second time for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 by a court in Can Tho Province. Arrested in February 2023, Le Minh The was accused of once again using social media to “discredit the policies of the party and state” and was given a 30-month sentence. The state-run Phap Luat (The Law) website did not provide examples of the content that it says “infringed upon the interests of the state.”

Le Minh The’s family was notified only a few days before the trial took place. His wife was allowed to attend the trial but had to watch the proceedings via CCTV in an adjacent room. According to his daughter, The refused to get a lawyer because he believes he'd done nothing wrong.

In 2020, The was released after serving a two-year sentence on similar charges. His sister Le Thi Binh was also sentenced to two years in prison for similar violations in 2020 and was released in November 2022. RSF condemned the conviction, saying: “Le Minh The was only serving the public interest by commenting on his country’s environmental and international issues, and should never have been detained, let alone sent back behind bars.”

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Le Minh The was born in Thanh Hoa province and is a veteran.  

Le Minh The usually live streamed on Facebook to talk about national issues such as the aggression of China on South China Sea or environment pollution. In addition, he also usually voiced his disagreement with government’s policies.

He has two daughters.

Arrested October 10, 2018. Sentenced to 2 years in prison under Art. 331 (2015 Code). Released July 10, 2020.

October 10, 2018
  • Art. 331 (2015 Code)
Binh Thuy district public security, Can Tho city
No. 367 Tran Quang Dieu street, Binh Thuy Ward, Can Tho city (map)
March 20, 2019
2 years in prison
October 10, 2020
July 10, 2020
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
Human Rights Watch

On October 10, police of Binh Thuy district, Can Tho city, arrested Le Minh The when he was in his private house, located in No. 367/21 Tran Quang Dieu street, Binh Thuy Ward, Can Tho city. He was prosecuted for “abusing democratic freedom rights to infringe upon the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organisations and citizens” under the Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Thanh Niên Newspaper reported that investigation agency also accused him of creating many Facebook accounts to post, share, and comment on articles, which distorted the guidelines and policies of the party and the state since early 2017 until now. Police reportedly confiscated many documents with those contents after searching his house.

Since June 2018, The was said to often use social media to connect with reactionaries, both inside the country and overseas, as well as livestream to incite people to participate in demonstrations against two bills on Special Economic Zones and cybersecurity.

He will be under pre-trial investigation for 2 months. His sister, Facebooker Mai Bui revealed that on the first day of his arrest, his wife brought the food for him but police refused and said that he would have to eat instant noodle with cold water. After 15 days, he would be able to receive the food but his family would not be allowed to meet him.

January 2019:

Le Minh The had been detained for over three months without being permitted a visit from his family. His family complied with requirements to obtain a letter of verification from commune officials, but they were still barred from meeting with him. 

March 2019:

On March 20, Le Minh The was sentenced to two years in prison under Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms" by the People’s Court of Binh Thuy Ward, Can Tho Province. The trial lasted only three hours, and all of his family, except for his wife, was barred from entering the courtroom. 

The People’s court of Binh Thuy Ward, Can Tho Province had originally postponed Le Minh The’s first instance trial, which was previously scheduled March 6, 2019. The's lawyer asked for an extension to prepare for the trial.

July 2020:

Le Minh The was released from prison on July 10, 2020. The reason for his early release is unknown

March 2019:

Human Rights Watch called for the release of Le Minh The and five political prisoners facing appeal trials the same week as The's first-instance hearing, saying that "[i]nternational donors and trade partners should tell Vietnam that continuing this crackdown will cause problems for the aid and trade deals that Hanoi wants to conclude with North America and the European Union.”

Arrested February 22, 2023. Sentenced to 2 years 6 months in prison under Art. 331 (2015 Code). Expected Release is August 22, 2025.

February 22, 2023
  • Art. 331 (2015 Code)
Can Tho public security, Can Tho City
Can Tho (map)
December 6, 2023
The People's Court of Can Tho Province
2 years 6 months in prison
August 22, 2025
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
Reporters Without Borders

Facebook activist Le Minh The was re-arrested on February 22, 2023. He was arrested in Can Tho, and his house was searched. The [pronounced tha-y] was first arrested in 2018 for participating in the public protests and was sentenced to two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331. He was released early in July 2020 for unknown reasons. The has been charged once again with “abusing democratic freedoms,” although the authorities did not say which of his postings had violated Article 331.

October 2023:

The’s daughter told Project 88 that her father’s pre-trial detention had been extended for an unknown period of time and that his trial might take place in December. He also told his family not to hire a lawyer.

Profile last updated: 2023-12-21 17:00:20

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