Nguyen Tuong Thuy

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Nguyen Tuong Thuy

Other Names: Nguyễn Tường Thụy

Date of Birth: 1952

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Journalist, Veteran

Last Known Prison: An Phuoc detention center, Binh Duong province

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Freedom of expression
  • Press

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Denial of Legal Representation
  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

April 2024:

Pham Thi Lan visited her husband in An Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong Province in southern Vietnam, 2,000 km from their home in Hanoi. Lan reported that Thuy, who is 72 years old, is getting weaker; he could not hold up his right arm and must use his left hand to lift it up. She said medical personnel told Thuy that he had suffered a mild stroke and prescribed some medication for him. 

February 2024:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy’s wife visited her husband recently and told Project88 that although he looked healthier on the outside, Thuy was having severe pain in his left wrist. Lan said her husband was also having severe scabies due to the unhygienic conditions. On a relatively bright note, problems with his large intestine seemed to have stabilized since August of last year.

March 2023:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy has high blood pressure but is being given medication by the prison, which has helped stabilize his conditions. His wife, Pham Thi Lan, told Project 88 that Thuy said he was not given the needed paperwork in time to appeal his 11-year conviction according to the law. Instead, he was later given a form to request leniency, which he promptly tore up.

A few months later, Thuy was notified that his fine of VND 180 million had been deposited into the national treasury; he also appealed that but to no avail. And when Thuy sent letters to the court complaining about being assaulted and beaten during the investigation, the court said it had no authority to look into his charges and sent his complaints to … the investigation agency. Lastly, none of the letters he sent home via the postal system reached their destination.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Nguyen Tuong Thuy lives in Hanoi.

Thuy is the Vice President of the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam. He is also a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy. He writes about human rights issues and has reported on activists, including Dung Truong, who was severely beaten by plainclothes police in March 2018. He advocated for press freedom in the US at a briefing in Washington DC in 2014. Thuy has been harassed and targeted for his activism on multiple occasions in recent years, including having his private home attacked and being physically assaulted by unknown thugs, potentially plainclothes police, in 2015.

April 2024:

On April 18, Pham Thi Lan, the wife of political prisoner Nguyen Tuong Thuy, was prevented from traveling to Cambodia on a personal trip. She was stopped at the Moc Bai border crossing in Tay Ninh Province based on order #427 issued by the Homeland Security Office on March 6, and order #A72 from the Border Management Authority, issued on March 8 by the Ministry of Public Security. Two days earlier, Lan had visited her husband, who’s currently held at An Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong Province in southern Vietnam, 2,000 km from their home in Hanoi. 

March 8, 2018: barred from leaving his home to meet with UN officials

Travel restriction
March 8, 2018
Public security
Thanh Tri district, Ha Noi (map)

freedom of movement

Blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy was blocked from leaving his house to meet with other local activists and representatives from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. About 20 officers surrounded Thuy’s home to prevent him from leaving, starting the evening prior.

March 13, 2020: harassed by public security officers

Police summons
March 13, 2020
Public security
Thanh Xuan district, Hanoi city (map)

respect of privacy, family, home, and correspondence

Nguyen Tuong Thuy was summoned by the security investigating agency of Ha Noi's public security force on March 13, 2020. The reason, as written in the document, is related to the high-profile case of Pham Chi Dung, a prominent dissident journalist and writer who was arrested on November 21, 2019, by the public security forces of Ho Chi Minh City and charged under Article 117 of Vietnam 2015 Criminal Code for “producing, storing, and disseminating” documents opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Thuy is another high-profile activist with a long history of activism. He has been harassed and targeted for his activism on multiple occasions over many years, from his 2013 arrest to his 2018 assault. He declined to meet with the agency, citing the coronavirus outbreak and his health condition.

Arrested May 23, 2020. Sentenced to 11 years in prison under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is May 23, 2031.

May 23, 2020
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Ministry of Public Security
His apartment in Hanoi (map)
January 5, 2021
The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City
Nguyen Van Mieng
11 years in prison
May 23, 2031
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of association
  • fair trial
  • UN Special Rapporteurs
  • Vietnamese civil society groups
  • Vietnam Human Rights Network
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • US government
  • International Federation for Human Rights
  • The European Union
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
  • Defend the Defenders

On the morning of May 23, 2020, Nguyen Tuong Thuy was arrested and his apartment searched by the public security of Hanoi City. Thuy, 70, is a veteran but left the Veteran Associations of Vietnam. He is currently the vice president of the Independent Association of Journalists; Pham Chi Dung, its president, was arrested last year. Thuy is charged under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code for alleged propaganda against the state. Thuy had been questioned many times about his connections to Dung, including in March 2020. He was taken from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City after his arrest. 

September 2020:

Two members of the unsanctioned Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) had their pre-trial detentions extended without their families being informed. Pham Chi Thanh, arrested in May, had his detention extended by four months on charges of engaging in “anti-state propaganda”. The organization’s vice-president, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, also arrested in May and similarly charged, may also have had his detention extended without notice.

October 2020:

The government has finished its investigation of Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan. Thuy’s wife said their lawyer will be Nguyen Van Mieng. Some observers expected that the trial would be held soon.

November 2020:

Lawyers for jailed journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh Tuan say they have finally received paperwork that allows them to start working on the cases on behalf of their clients, after the Procuracy office finished its investigation. Attorney Nguyen Van Mieng reported that since their arrests, the three men have not yet been allowed to talk to a lawyer. He also said the men were allowed to receive supplies sent by their families on November 6, but he was not able to see them due to Covid-19 restrictions.



Attorney Nguyen Van Mieng, lawyer for Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh Tuan, said the order for their temporary detention was signed on November 12, 2020, allowing for three months and 15 days of additional detention. It is thus expected that their first instance trials will take place toward the end of January 2021. Dung said that after reading the 12-page indictment against him, “I could not see where I broke the law.” Thuy said, “Of the 45 articles attributed to me, some weren’t even mine.” He said he’d appeal the indictment within 15 days.

January 2021:

Three members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) were sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison after a trial lasting half a day. Pham Chi Dung, 55, received 15 years; Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 69, received 11 years; and Le Huu Minh Tuan, 32, received 11 years. All three were convicted of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code. Thuy is known to be in poor health; the long sentences could cause serious health problems. You can read our analysis of the trial here. Before his sentencing, Thuy made this statement: “All my articles are just yearnings for our people and our country. In the future, activities like mine will be considered perfectly normal.” Dung said, “A harsh sentence for independent journalists like us will show the world what ‘freedom of the press’ looks like in Vietnam. It’ll also create problems in international relations during this difficult period.”


Nguyen Tuong Thuy has reversed his decision to appeal his sentence. “I later learned that Nguyen Tuong Thuy had finally filed an appeal petition, but the police required him to fill it out according to their instructions, and he refused and tore the document up,"  his lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng said.

Thuy's wife went to visit him in Ho Chi Minh City but was told that he had already been transferred to Bo La Prison Camp in Binh Duong Province. She was not allowed to meet him there due to covid-19 restrictions. 

March 2021:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy’s wife reported that her husband had been moved to a different prison, and when she went to visit him there, she was not allowed to see him.

Thuy reported to be in poor health, with a severly injured hand. A few days before he was moved to the new prison, his wife Nguyen Thi Lan went from Hanoi to bring her husband some medication, but was turned away by the guards. “I don’t know if he’s receiving the right medication,” she said. 

Nguyen Thi Lan reported on April 15 that her husband had been transferred to An Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong Province. His wife reported that he is showing signs of physical and mental decline in jail. She said her husband appeared frail and was uncharacteristically absent-minded. Thuy told his wife that conditions at the new prison were better.

June 2021:

Blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who is serving an 11-year sentence at An Diem Prison, has called his wife and reported that he’s having scabies as a result of poor hygiene when he was held at the Bo La Detention Center. He and many others who were there contracted the skin infestation due to burrowing mites. Thuy, 71, is said to be in declining health. 

September 2021:

Petitions calling for an investigation into the legal proceedings against jailed journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy were denied by the authorities on the grounds that as a convicted prisoner, he does not enjoy the rights given to regular citizens. 


The UN released its annual report on reprisals for cooperating with the UN on human rights abuses. The section on Vietnam highlighted many familiar organizations and individuals such as VOICE, IJAVN, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Nguyen Bac Truyen, as well as their spouses and family members who were harassed by police for talking to UN representatives.

November 2020:

Thuy's wife reported on her husband’s condition in prison. He said that his left arm has been in severe pain, something that he’d never suffered before the arrest. He also has to sleep on hard concrete, which hurts his back. He told his lawyer that if the family can not see him, then they should not bring him any supplies. He also told his wife not to try to attend his trial because they won't let her in the courtroom anyway.

June 2021:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy called his wife and reported that he was having scabies as a result of poor hygiene when he was held at the Bo La Detention Center. He and many others who were there contracted the skin infestation due to burrowing mites. Thuy, 71, was said to be in declining health. 

March 2022:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy‘s wife, Nguyen Thi Lan, visited him on March 12, 2022. Thuy was not losing weight but looked unhealthy. There seemed to be a white film covering his eyes; he could not see things well. His hearing had also become poor; he was also suffering from ulcerative colitis.

May 2022:

Nguyen Tuong Thuy was reportedly in failing health. Thuy’s wife, Pham Thi Lan, told RFA that her husband was suffering from several ailments, including back pain, high blood pressure, scabies, and inflammatory bowel disease. She said officials at the detention center refused the family’s request to have Thuy transferred to a medical facility for treatment, downplaying the severity of his illnesses.


Several groups released statements calling for the release of Pham Thanh and Nguyen Tuong Thuy, well-known activists who were both arrested during the week of May 18. The Vietnam Human Rights Network and Defend the Defenders urged the government to end the crackdown against the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam. The Committee to Protect Journalists also called for their releases, saying that “Vietnam must stop treating independent journalists as enemies of the state, and must allow the press to work freely and without fear of trumped-up charges and prison time.” The head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said of the arrests: “The fact that the government has detained these two journalists, both respected former Communist Party members who have become scathing critics of the party’s ossification, speaks volumes about the feverishness at the head of the party as it prepares for its 21st five-yearly congress in six months’ time.”

November 2020:

Five working groups at the UN have written a letter to the government of Vietnam to demand specific information regarding the arbitrary arrests of a number of journalists in the past few months, including Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and several others. If there is no answer within 60 days, the groups said they will raise the issue publicly with the Human Rights Council as required by their charter.

January 2021:

Prior to and after the January 5 trial of Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Pham Chi Dung, and Le Huu Minh Tuan, many organizations expressed their support for the activists and pressed for the Vietnamese government to drop the charges against them, including:

The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also released a statement condemning the trial, saying “We are deeply concerned by the use of vaguely-defined laws to arbitrarily detain an increasing number of independent journalists, bloggers, online commentators and human rights defenders – in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

September 2021:

The UN released its annual report on reprisals for cooperating with the UN on human rights abuses. The section on Vietnam highlighted many familiar organizations and individuals such as VOICE, IJAVN, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Nguyen Bac Truyen, as well as their spouses and family members who were harassed by police for talking to UN representatives.

December 2022:

The Vietnam Human Rights Network held its award ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany on December 10. The recipients of its Human Rights Award for this year were Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Luu Van Vinh and Tran Duc Thach – all are serving multi-year sentences in Vietnam. Their wives appeared on a video link from Vietnam to thank the organization and the international community for advocating on their husbands’ behalf.

Profile last updated: 2024-05-16 01:43:10

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