Truong Duy Nhat

Current Status: Pre-trial detention

Photo of Truong Duy Nhat

Other Names: Trương Duy Nhất

Date of Birth: January 31, 1964

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Journalist

Current Prison: T16 Detention Center, Hanoi

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Democracy
  • Freedom of expression
  • Human rights
  • Press

August 2019:

On August 8, 2019, the Department of Police Investigation announced that Truong Duy Nhat allegedly abused his position at Dai Doan Ket newspaper to help with a fraudulent purchase of land. His action is alleged to have made the state budget lose 13 billion VND. Nhat, a blogger and former political prisoner, was kidnapped from Thailand in January while attempting to seek asylum there and forcibly returned to Vietnam, where he is now in prison. Earlier in the year, he was charged with “abusing position, authority to obtain public property,” but authorities changed the charged to “abusing position, authority while in office,” due to their inability to prove the property embezzlement act. He denies all charges against him. 


On August 28, 2019, lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan met (story in Vietnamese) with Truong Duy Nhat at T16 detention prison  for the first time since Nhat's arrest. Tuan told Radio Free Asia that he went to see Nhat on August 26 but the guards didn’t allow the meeting to take place without the presence of investigation officers. Tuan returned on August 28 to meet Nhat under the presence of an investigation officer. Nhat was reported to be in good spirits, but the prison has been prohibiting the receipt of food from his family. Regarding the charge against him of “abusing position, authority while in office” (Art 356 of the 2015 Criminal Code) for his alleged involvement in a land fraud case, he said that the charges are unfounded and that he only followed authorization from others. Authorities have ended their investigation into Nhat and have recommended the case for prosecution. Nhat asked the authorities to return his personal assets, which were taken in Bangkok, Thailand. He asked Tuan to take pictures and save all the articles related to his case to read later and to bring him three law books.

Details - Background, History of Activism.

Truong Duy Nhat is from Da Nang province.

Profile photo source: Teu Blog via The Vietnamese

Truong Duy Nhat worked as a journalist for state-run media before leaving to start his own blog, “A Different Viewpoint” (Một Góc Nhìn Khác). In 2013, he was arrested for this blog, which often featured content critical of the state, and was later sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 258 of the 1999 Criminal Code. He was released in 2015. Prior to his most recent arrest, he had recently been working as a Vietnamese-language contributor for Radio Free Asia.

January 26, 2019: kidnapped from Thailand after attempting to claim asylum

  • Detention
  • Forced disappearance
  • Persecution while seeking asylum abroad
January 26-28, 2019
Public security
Bangkok Future Park mall, Thailand (map)

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • humane treatment in detention
  • freedom of movement
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Amnesty International
  • US government
  • Committee to Protect Journalists

Former political prisoner Truong Duy Nhat went missing on January 26, the day after he attempted to claim asylum status in Thailand after fleeing Vietnam in the weeks prior. Some sources say he was abducted from a popular mall in Bangkok.

Nhat allegedly left Vietnam for Thailand after he found out that he faced risk of re-arrest. Some say Nhat potentially had information that could be damaging to the Vietnamese Prime Minister and feared that Nhat was abducted by Vietnamese agents. Thai officials said they did not have a record of Nhat’s entry into the country but were investigating his disappearance. Truong Duy Nhat’s wife, Cao Thi Xuan Phuong, appealed to the Vietnamese government and international community for help in finding her husband.

After being missing for almost two months, Truong Duy Nhat was later located -- in prison in Vietnam. His family confirmed on March 20 that he was indeed arrested and brought back to Vietnam; he was put in jail on January 28, after attempting to seek asylum in Thailand just days prior, and is currently imprisoned at T16 temporary detention facility in Hanoi.


It is now believed that Thai authorities assisted Vietnam in the kidnapping of Truong Duy Nhat in January, according to information obtained by Amnesty International. Nhat was attempting to seek asylum in Thailand, when he was abducted and returned to Vietnam. This is indicative of a larger pattern of cooperation between Asian authorities to detain and deport activists in coordinated forced disappearances. Local officers detained Nhat and stayed with him for a few hours before driving him to meet with Vietnamese officials. 

The US supported the investigation that Thailand launched in response to the disappearance. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists all called for immediate investigation into Nhat’s disappearance.

Arrested January 28, 2019.

January 28, 2019
T16 temporary detention facility in Hanoi (map)
Ngo Anh Tuan
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • One Free Press Coalition
  • Amnesty International
  • US government
  • Committee to Protect Journalists

After being missing for almost two months, Truong Duy Nhat was later located -- in prison in Vietnam. His family confirmed on March 20 that he was indeed arrested and brought back to Vietnam; he was put in jail on January 28, after attempting to seek asylum in Thailand just days prior, and is currently imprisoned at T16 temporary detention facility in Hanoi.

His wife attempted to meet with him there but was refused a visit. Some observers allege Vietnam violated its own law in arresting Nhat -- they did not inform the family of the arrest nor issue an arrest warrant.

April 2019:

Authorities denied Truong Duy Nhat supplies. Nhat, a blogger and former political prisoner, was kidnapped from Thailand in January where he was attempting to seek asylum, and was later located in prison in Hanoi. Nhat's wife, Cao Thi Ngoc Phuong, and writer Xuan Nguyen Pham attempted to visit Nhat on April 22 but were barred from seeing him and could only leave some money for him, not supplies. However, in March, his wife was able to leave some supplies for him. A prison official told them that there was an order prohibiting them from sending supplies. She tried to investigate the matter further, but could not obtain more information about that order. 

June 2019:

The Ministry of Public Security opened up a case against Truong Duy Nhat for an alleged "fraudulent purchase of land." Police also searched Nhat's house. The search warrant was reported to be dated from January 16. Nhat was arrested on January 28.

July 2019:

On July 23, 2019, Mrs. Cao Thi Xuan Phuong, Truong Duy Nhat’s wife, went to see her husband at T16 prison in Hanoi. Nhat’s younger sister, Cuc, took a flight with her from Da Nang to Hanoi to visit as well. However, at the prison entrance, Cuc was stopped by the officers because the official invitation only named Phuong as a visitor. However, Phuong had signed a document at a previous visit requesting that Cuc be able to visit as well. During the meeting, Nhat told his wife about a change in his charge. He was earlier charged with “abusing position, authority to obtain public property,” but now the investigation police department is charging him with “abusing position, authority while in office,” due to their inability to charge him in an alleged case of land fraud. He denies all charges.

Once he was located, several human rights groups called for clarity in the case, as well as for Nhat's current status and his immediate release, and information on any possible role that Thai authorities played in the alleged abduction.

May 2019:

Twenty-five members of the US Congress sent a letter to the US Secretary of State urging the US to press for better protections for freedom of expression in Vietnam, citing Vietnam's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The letter highlighted the cases of imprisoned journalists Nguyen Van Hoa and Le Anh Hung and blogger Truong Duy Nhat.

June 2019:

Amnesty International released an Urgent Action for Truong Duy Nhat, who was forcibly returned to Vietnam while attempting to seek asylum in Thailand. They called on Thai authorities to investigate his kidnapping, which they are now believed to have assisted in facilitating. 

On June 25, 2019, the OHCHR Asia made public a joint communication to the Thai and Vietnamese governments on Truong Duy Nhat and Bach Hong Quyen, in which UN human rights experts expressed concerns about the two activists’ arbitrary arrest, in particular, the arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, and subsequent forced repatriation of Truong Duy Nhat, and the surveillance and intimidation of Bach Hong Quyen. The communication can be read here.

August 2019:

The One Free Press Coalition of media organizations released their updated list of The 10 Most Urgent Press Freedom Cases Around the World. On the list, they named Vietnamese blogger and former political prisoner Truong Duy Nhat. Nhat was kidnapped, allegedly with the help of Thai forces, while trying to claim asylum in Bangkok in January; he was missing for several weeks and later located in prison in Hanoi.

Profile last updated: 2019-09-02 03:28:29

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