Nguyen Ngoc Anh

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Nguyen Ngoc Anh

Other Names: Nguyễn Ngọc Ánh

Date of Birth: October 12, 1980

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Engineer

Last Known Prison: Xuan Loc prison, Dong Nai province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Environment
  • Freedom of expression
  • Human rights
  • Sovereignty

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Torture
  • Solitary Confinement
  • Denial of Legal Representation
  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
  • Harsh Physical and Administrative Conditions
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer
  • Infliction of Physical and Psychological Pain
  • Online commentator

March 2024:

Nguyen Thi Chau, Anh's wife, told Project88 that during her visit to her husband on March 23, Anh said he had been asked by a janitor to go to the warden’s office for “some business.” This was not during normal hours, so Anh adamantly refused to leave his cell, telling that person that if they wanted to see or interrogate him, they needed to ask him directly or show an order of some sort. No one had come to him with such a request since then.

Earlier in March:

Nguyen Thi Chau told Project88 that she was able to talk to her husband, Nguyen Ngoc Anh, on Feb. 21, and got confirmation that he did receive the package of food she sent him that had been missing for more than a month (it was sent on Jan. 13). As the box took a long time to reach him, the food inside was spoiled by the time he received the package. Chau said she will file a complaint with the warden at Detention K 2 in Dong Nai, demanding to know why they kept the package from Anh for so long that the food inside, which she had to scrimp and save to make for him, had gone bad.

January 2023:

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued its findings on Anh's case. It found that Anh has been arbitrarily arrested and wrongly convicted, and that the government of Vietnam has violated a number of international laws and statutes. The report also says Anh’s case represents a pattern of abuse and that the only acceptable remedy is his immediate release.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Nguyen Ngoc Anh, born in Hanoi, majored in aquaculture at Nha Trang University. After moving to Ben Tre Province ten years ago, his family began to grow shrimp in ponds in Binh Hoa village, Binh Dai commune, Dinh Dai District.

On his Facebook account, he sometimes shared and commented on news such as the increasing of gasoline prices. He also appeared in some livestreams, which were initiated by Facebooker Hoang Ngoc Dieu, to debate about emerging social issues.

He is married. They have a child who was four years old at the time of Anh's arrest. 

Nguyen Thi Chau, Anh's wife, was one of 20 family members and supporters of political prisoners were physically attacked by thugs who they believed to be plain-clothes prison officers and public security officers while attempting to visit political prisoners on July 12, 2019. Activist Trinh Ba Phuong, son of Can Thi Theu, told VOA Vietnamese that the group was on its way to Prison No. 6 with some posters solely to visit and support prisoners such as Truong Minh Duc, who were on hunger strike at the time. When the visitors group tried to approach Camp 6 by car, a truck seemed to purposely park to block the road, so they decided to walk the rest of the way. This is where the attack took place. Activists Trinh Ba Khiem, Nguyen Thuy Hanh and Huynh Ngoc Chenh were not only physically assaulted, but their belongings, including money, phones, and personal documents, were taken by the attackers.

After the attack, the group was forced to go back to the main road and was escorted to Vinh city, unable to complete the visit.

Read testimony about the attack, here

September 2021:

Nguyen Thi Chau, Nguyen Ngoc Anh's wife, was summoned by Ben Tre police to answer questions about her recent Facebook postings criticizing the government’s handling of the pandemic. She defiantly told the police she only had one hour to spend and promptly walked out once the time was up. She also told them to be careful not to violate the Constitution themselves, and refused to sign any documents. 

November 2023:

Nguyen Thi Chau told Project88 that she was summoned by Ben Tre Police and warned about her Facebook activities. They said her posts violate cybersecurity laws and will be “reported to higher authorities.”

December 2023:

Nguyen Thi Chau told Project88 that she continues to be “invited” by Ben Tre provincial police in Binh Dai County to “receive guidance on fire prevention for small businesses and other related matters.” The latest “invitation” was on Dec. 8, with the previous one delivered on Dec. 4. Chau told the police to stop sending her these invitations because it causes her stress and she would not comply the next time.

Chau also told RFA that the police of Binh Dai District in Ben Tre Province installed two cameras pointing directly at her house several years ago, after her husband was arrested.

March 2024:

Nguyen Thi Chau was fined by Ben Tre provincial cyber police on March 5 in the amount of 7.5 million dong ($300) for posting a picture of Anh with the caption “Innocent man convicted by idiots.” Chau told the police that she would agree to sign the paperwork just to acknowledge that they “indeed are idiots.” However, she said she would only be able to pay once Anh is released and can work. The police gave her 10 days to pay, otherwise the fine will start accumulating interest. 


Arrested August 30, 2018. Sentenced to 6 years in prison and 5 years probation under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is August 30, 2024.

August 30, 2018
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Ben Tre province public security, Ben Tre province
Binh Hoa Village, Binh Dai Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province (map)
June 6, 2019
The People's Court of Ben Tre Province
Dang Dinh Manh
6 years in prison and 5 years probation
August 30, 2024
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Amnesty International
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • The European Union

Nguyen Thi Chau, Anh’s wife, said that he was detained on August 30, 2018, at around 11:00 am. At that time, he was on the way to meet the communal police in accordance with the summons order released a day before.

Police then went to his house to search and confiscated his laptop, phone, several USBs, and documents. In addition, many police in plainclothes also surrounded his house to observe his wife’s activities after his arrest.

On September 4, he was prosecuted under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code for “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

Thanh Nien newspaper, an internal newspaper, reported that from March 31 to August 14, Anh created two different Facebook accounts to share, upload, and livestream items with anti-government and anti-party content. Through those videos, Anh “propagated fabricated information, distorted, defamed the people’s administration, which resulted in suspicious, panic and anxious psychology among the people.” He was also accused of inciting people to protest on June 10 and preparing for another protest on September 2, a national day.

However, his wife pointed out the real reasons of his arrest were actually because he raised his voice on national issues such as poor governmental management on social issues; violations of human rights, especially freedom of expression; China’s aggression on the South China Sea dispute; corruption; and environmental pollution.

On September 4, to meet Anh’s requirement for representation, lawyer Dang Dinh Manh went to the Ben Tre Provincial Security Investigation Agency to carry out the procedure for defense registration for Anh. Anh’s request for a lawyer was also confirmed by security officials on the same day.

However, on September 6, the Ben Tre Security Investigation Agency suddenly sent out an announcement about Anh's alleged withdrawal of the registration of his lawyer.

This news was shared by his lawyer, Manh Dang. He also shared a copy of handwriting supposedly written by Anh on September 4 saying that he wanted to withdraw the request to hire a lawyer because his family’s finances were in trouble and that he could self-study to defend himself.

November 2018:

On November 19, Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s wife was not allowed to meet with Anh in prison but was said to send a letter to update him on news. Police had been questioning her on various subjects since his detention, including an alleged debt.

March 2019:

On March 11, 2019, Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s wife went to send him items at his detention center. However, a detention supervisor took her to the main police station, which she first thought meant that they had completed their investigation into Anh. However, she was questioned for an hour and a half by four security officers while serving her son breakfast. All questions were about her friends on Facebook, as well as her conversations. Police asked her to sign documents after the interrogation, but she refused. 

Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s father passed away in Hanoi on March 20, while Anh was in pre-trial detention. His wife and son were able to attend Anh's father’s funeral.

On March 29, Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s wife reported on her meeting with security forces. She was questioned about the "50k Fund” and “Environment Fund," organizations that were established to support poor families affected by the harassment or imprisonment of a family member, as well as money that she received from these groups. All the questions were allegedly to find out more about her relationships and her financial situation.

April 2019:

On April 4, 2019, Nguyen Ngoc Anh and his family were finally able to meet after more than seven months. He revealed that his health was not good during the first four months in prison, but it had improved. His spirits had also lifted recently. Anh encouraged his wife not to worry about him and to be strong. He said he knew what to do in prison and that he was not lonely. The visit with his wife and son brought him much joy. 

June 2019:

On June 6, Nguyen Ngoc Anh was sentenced to six years in prison under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code for “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam" for expressing his views on national issues on Facebook, protesting the Formosa environmental disaster, supporting political prisoners, and calling for protests.

September 2019:

In Binh Phu Detention center, in Ben Tre Province, Nguyen Ngoc Anh was facing serious maltreatment while waiting for an appeal trial. Anh had been held with common criminal inmates and had been suffering from severe physical and mental harassment-- including death threats-- for two months, which he believes to have been inflicted upon him at the command of the detention center leadership. From his arrest on August 30, 2018, until his first instance trial, Anh had no defense counsel. In the process of his appeal, Anh and his lawyer (hired after the first trial) still had not been allowed to meet. The authorities also refused Anh’s request for medical treatment and medicine sent by his wife


Update: Nguyen Ngoc Anh was in a dangerous situation after he was viciously beaten by a cellmate. He sought treatment in prison but was refused. His wife reported that he was having trouble walking and using his hands at her recent visit with him. After the attack, Anh was forced into solitary confinement. Anh revealed that the detention center ignored his requests to change rooms. Anh wrote a complaint to report his cellmate's illegal actions, as well as a request for medical treatment to see if any of his limbs were broken. In response, the detention medial center just quickly checked him over and concluded that he had osteoarthritis pain. However, his pain was so painful that Anh was unable to eat and sleep. Despite his health condition, a senior detention official advised him to accept the reality of his situation and comply with the detention regulations. 


October 2019:

On October 23, 2019, Nguyen Thi Chau had a meeting with Ben Tre province police, as requested by the police department. She refused to give the police more than one hour of her time unless they paid her money to cover the time she might lose. The police were concerned about her activities with the Wives of Political Prisoners Group. They warned her not to provoke the government by wearing a Hoang Sa - Truong Sa T-shirt or answering interviews from Radio Free Asia. However, Chau was very firm about exercising her freedoms, and she insisted on doing whatever legal activities she could to help secure her husband's release from prison.  

November 2019:

Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s wife, Nguyen Phu An Duong, traveled to Ho Chi Minh City in preparation to participate in her husband’s appeal trial. According to her, the undercover public security forces followed her all the way from Ben Tre to Ho Chi Minh City and watched her very closely. On the day of the trial, November 7, it is believed that when some supporters of Anh tried to enter the courtroom, they were required to present a birth certificate, not an regular identification, which is what is normally requested. This was likely in a bid to prevent supporters from attending the trial. The public security forces patrolling the National High Court at Ho Chi Minh City said that because the courtroom was very small, only people with an “invitation” could enter. 

At 10:30 am, the Court quickly reached its final conclusion and upheld the judgment against Anh and his six-year prison sentence. While this was expected, it still shows how the judicial mechanisms utilized by the activists and their families cannot produce any real results against the systematic injustices facing political prisoners.

The result of Anh’s appeal trial was probably predictable because Vietnam’s authorities have shown no intention to stop repressing and silencing dissidents through applying the provisions of the 2015 Penal Code, particularly Articles 117 (propaganda against the State), 318 (causing public disorder), and 331 (abusing democratic freedoms). Even when many international human rights organizations criticize the Vietnamese government on their violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, the crackdowns continue and seem to only have worsened in recent months. 

January 2020:

Authorities transferred Nguyen Ngoc Anh to a new prison without notifying his family in advance; his wife went to the old prison in Ben Tre province to visit and deliver him food on January 21, only to be told that he had been moved to Xuan Loc prison in Dong Nai province. When she finally was able to see him, he reported that he had recently been physically assaulted by prison officers. 

March 2020:

On March 3, 2020, Nguyen Phu An Duong, Anh's wife, was again “invited” to work with the local public security about her online posts and current activities. They insisted that this meeting was urgent and related to her husband’s condition, so Duong decided to go to the meeting to obtain more information. However, at the meeting, they mostly tried to interrogate her about her online posts and her activities. Duong and the wives of many political prisoners have organized a small association to support each other. Duong declined to answer the authorities’ questions and left. This was not the first time authorities have used such tactics to harass her. 

May 2020:

Nguyen Ngoc Anh was able to call his wife on May 8, 2020. During the call, he mentioned that the running water has been heavily contaminated. The prisoners had been uniting to request an investigation and usable water. The prison authorities responded by threatening to use force against them. 

July 2022:

Nguyen Ngoc Anh, serving a six year prison term at Xuan Loc Detention Center, launched a sit-down strike to demand better conditions for political prisoners. According to his mother, Nguyen Thi Chau, “Most of the prisoners jailed at Xuan Loc on political charges are now held in small, humid cells and suffer from poor health, though better cells are available in a new wing of the prison.”

October 2022:

Nguyen Ngoc Anh told his wife over the phone on October 18 that he had been on a hunger strike at Xuan Loc Prison since October 17 to demand improvement in prison conditions. Nguyen Thi Chau said when she visited Anh on October 10, he said he’d been requesting to be moved to a different cell many times but was always denied. During the phone call, Anh said the current cell was damp and dark without electricity at night, causing his health to suffer.


November 2021:

A group of at least eight political prisoners held at Xuan Loc Prison staged a strike to demand that they be allowed to go outside for sunlight and exercise. Nguyen Thi Chau, the wife of Nguyen Ngoc Anh, told Radio Free Asia that the group had been refusing prison meals for over 60 days and survived only on crackers and water. Anh told his wife that the political prisoners had been held inside their cells since June, even though there had been no positive cases of Covid-19 at the prison.

March 2022:

The wife of Nguyen Ngoc Anh reported on her Facebook that she and the wife of Ho Dinh Cuong went to visit their husbands at Xuan Loc Prison on March 12, 2022. Anh was healthy, but he reconfirmed what Huynh Duc Thanh Binh shared with his mother: that the prisoners in Xuan Loc Prison were suffering from mange and ringworm, but prison officials have ignored their repeated complaints.

June 2019:

The EU condemned the decision against Anh after his June 6, 2019, trial and said he should be released, saying "Nguyen Ngoc Anh's right to peaceful freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution." Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch spoke out in support of Anh ahead of the trial. 

November 2019:

Many international organizations, including the EU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch called on Vietnam’s authorities to respect human rights and release Nguyen Ngoc Anh. One day prior to Anh’s appeal trial, Human Rights Watch continued to urge for his release, saying that “Nguyen Ngoc Anh is among a rapidly increasing group of political dissenters locked up for expressing opinions on Facebook.”

Profile last updated: 2024-04-02 02:44:35

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

© 2022 The 88 Project . The 88 Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the state of Illinois, United States.