Phan Kim Khanh

Current Status: Released - at risk

Photo of Phan Kim Khanh

Other Names: Phan Kim Khánh

Date of Birth: June 3, 1993

Gender: M

Religion: Christian (Catholic)

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Blogger, Student

Last Known Prison: Ba Sao prison, Nam Ha province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Press

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Solitary Confinement
  • Former Political Prisoner
  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Harsh Physical and Administrative Conditions
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

March 2023: Phan Kim Khanh was released from Nam Ha Prison after completing his six-year sentence for spreading “anti-state propaganda.” He describes conditions in Nam Ha as exceedingly harsh and described how political prisoners are forced to work without pay to make products he believes are sold to EU markets.

January 2022:

Political prisoner Phan Kim Khanh reported to his family that his health is alright. He also notified them that fellow political prisoner Pham Thanh was transferred to Nam Ha prison camp.

November 2021:

Phan Kim Khanh’s sister, Trang Phan, said her brother was able to call the family after getting cut off during his last call two weeks ago. When Khanh’s mother asked why the call was cut off, Khanh said prison officials were afraid certain information could be made public. However, Khanh couldn’t be more specific for fear of getting cut off again. He did report that he had been on a 10-day hunger strike and had just resumed eating. Khanh did not say what prompted the hunger strike.

October 2021:

Jailed blogger Phan Kim Khanh, former member of the US-sponsored Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, had his call with his family cut off after he warned that if they don’t hear from him within 15 days then “something bad will have happened.” 

Read our translations of some of his recent letters from prison, here.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation, Support the Family.

Prior to his arrest, Phan Kim Khánh was a student in his final year at the International Relations Faculty of the University of Thái Nguyên. He was active in student affairs at University and served as secretary of the University’s Students’ Association, as well as an MC for University events. In 2015, Khánh was one of 10 students of Thái Nguyên University who received a scholarship to attend a training course at the U.S. Embassy for members of YSEALI (The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative).

According to the Ministry of Public Security’s account, since the end of 2015, “Phan Kim Khánh has established and administered two blogs called ‘Báo Tham nhũng’ [Anti-corruption Newspaper] and ‘Tuần Việt Nam’ [Vietnam Weekly]; three Facebook pages called ‘Báo Tham Nhũng’ [Anti-corruption Newspaper], ‘Tuần Báo Việt Nam’ [Vietnam Weekly], and ‘Dân chủ TV’ [Democracy TV]; and two YouTube channels called ‘Việt Báo TV’ [Vietnamese Newspaper TV] and ‘Việt Nam online.’ Those outlets continuously published much information with fabricated, distorted content against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the majority of which was taken from other reactionary websites.”

The authorities also stated that Phan Kim Khánh “had established contact with several reactionary, opposing factors inside the country and overseas to discuss, exchange information, and co-administer the websites” including with Nguyễn Văn Hải (aka blogger Điếu Cày) and Việt Tân, among others.

Phan Kim Khanh comes from a poor family who needs financial support to hire defense lawyers and to send him supplies every month. Read the appeal for assistance here.

Contact us if you can assist.

Arrested March 21, 2017. Sentenced to 6 years in prison under Art. 88 (1999 Code). Released March 21, 2023.

March 21, 2017
  • Art. 88 (1999 Code)
October 25, 2017
Ha Huy Son
6 years in prison
March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023
  • Freedom Now
  • International professionals
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Phan Kim Khánh was arrested on March 21, 2017 under Art. 88 for “propaganda against the Socialist state.” State-owned media, citing the Ministry of Public Security, confirmed the arrests and charges against the blogger, and also detailed the accusations against him.

Prior to his trial, he was held at the Thai Nguyen province Police detention center.

Lawyer Ha Huy Son was his defense counsel. Phan Kim Khanh met with him for the first time early September 2017. Prior to that, Khánh’s family’s effort to hire defense lawyers for him had been thwarted.

On October 25, 2017, Khanh was convicted in a four-hour trial of violating Article 88 and sentenced to six years in prison and four years of house arrest. It was unclear if he would appeal. His father was allowed in the courtroom, but others were prohibited from attending. His parents continue to support him. “If I could see Khanh now, I would tell him that his father and I have always supported what he’s done. I believe that he acted as he did because he is a patriot,” his mother said.

January 2018:

Phan Kim Khanh's family visited him on January 22 for the first time since his trial. Khanh had been transferred from Thai Nguyen province Detention Center to Nam Ha prison in Ha Nam province, which probably meant he had not appealed his sentence of 6 years imprisonment and 3 years of probation under Article 88. According to the family, Khanh was in good health and spirits.

October 2018:

On September 30, Phan Kim Khanh’s father visited him at Nam Ha detention center in Ha Nam province. Khanh’s health and spirit were good. However, he asked his father to contact his lawyer with an appeal issue. He wanted to file a complaint towards detention center of Thai Nguyen province for refusing to transfer his appeal petition, which was written and sent right after the first instance court hearing on October 25, 2017.

November 2018:

After a visit on November 11, Phan Kim Khanh's family reported that Khanh was in good health and spirits. Khanh’s family was able to send him some medicine but was having trouble in securing the detention officers’ approval to send him books, including a Bible and three bilingual books in English and Vietnamese. After Khanh argued with them, they accepted the three bilingual books but still refused to give him the Bible. Khanh continued to fight, and the authorities finally agreed to allow all four books.

January 2019:

On January 4, Phan Kim Khanh’s family visited him at Ba Sao Detention Center and received a letter. In his letter, Khanh gave his family and supporters wishes for Christmas, as well as thanks for their support. He was said to be in a good health and good spirits in spite of his darker complexion. Detention officials accepted some items from the family, including medicine, books, and one blank notebook, while refusing gloves, socks, a wool cap, and three other blank notebooks. They argued that Khanh could buy those things at their canteen.

February 2019:

Phan Kim Khanh's family and fellow activists visited him in prison on February 10, and reported that he was in good health and spirits. 

He planned to submit a formal complaint after the People's Court of Thai Nguyen did not review his petition for an appeal. His family never received any documents acknowledging the appeal that Khanh had submitted. 

March 2019:

Authorities at Ba Sao prison camp threatened to move Phan Kim Khanh to an isolated cell, and were also denying him letters and phone calls from family. These actions were allegedly in retaliation for Khanh attempting to lodge a formal complaint against authorities who had not reviewed a petition for appeal of his prison sentence.

April 2019:

Since February 12, Phan Kim Khanh has been harassed because he has denounced Thai Nguyen security forces for not allowing him to appeal his prison sentence. It believed that authorities have not sent any of Khanh's letters related his attempted appeal. Security officers in the detention center have prevented Khanh from making a phone call to his family and receiving letters. They also threatened to isolate him in a single room if he kept protesting. However, he was able to call his family on March 29 after consistently fighting for that right. Khanh warned that detention officers might try to intimidate his visitors. On March 31, a security officer met his father when he was visiting Khanh, telling him to advise Khanh not to protest against them. If he continued, he would be isolated and unable to call or meet with his family.

May 2019:

Phan Kim Khanh's father, Phan Van Dung, wrote an open letter, in which he shared the worsening condition of Khanh in prison, due to Khanh's determination to appeal the first instance trial's decision. He was threatened with isolation and no family communications if he does not stop his appeal process. 

June 2019:

After his first instance trial on October 25, 2017, Phan Kim Khanh, who was sentenced to six years in prison, filed an appeal. However, Khanh's request was ignored. Since then, he has made several efforts to request an appeal trial according to the law. Khanh's family thought Khanh decided not to appeal because of the communication difficulties. Now they think the law enforcement agency of Vietnam has blatantly acted to block his efforts to appeal.

September 2019:

On September 16, 2019, on the behalf of Phan Kim Khanh, Freedom Now and the international law firm Dechert LLP sent a petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), accusing the Vietnamese government of violating international laws when arresting and prosecuting blogger Phan Kim Khanh. According to Freedom Now and Dechert LLP’s press release, "Phan admitted in court to have run the blogs, but said that his main purpose was to fight corruption, and he did not know that reporting on corruption constituted a crime." Khanh, a university student at the time, was then sentenced to six years in prison. He's had difficulties appealing his sentence, and he has faced mistreatment from prison authorities while attempting to lodge the formal appeal. Read the full petition to the UNWGAD, here. 

November 2019:

We interviewed Phan Kim Khanh’s mother, father, and sister, who remain steadfast in their commitment to Khanh and his innocence, now nearly three years into his prison sentence. The treatment of Khanh and his family by the authorities highlights the systematic efforts used to repress individual dissidents as well as their families, including such tactics as denying Khanh supplies and threatening him with retaliation for trying to appeal his sentence. Sharing their voices in this video, we hope to help Khanh’s family in their quest to bring his story to more international audiences. If you can assist Khanh’s family, please contact usWatch the full interview, here

January 2020:

Phan Kim Khanh was in solitary confinement for allegedly "rebelling" against the prison administration. There is a noticeable deterioration in his health, possibly due to malnutrition. The family has called for the help of civil society organizations. It was also reported that Nguyen Viet Dung was also in solitary confinement for the same reason, as well as for "refusing to work." Dung and Khanh were both in solitary confinement at Ba Sao prison camp in Ha Nam prison and both were in the process of trying to appeal their sentences, but at different levels of the appellate process.

February 2021:

Phan Kim Khanh was reported to be in bad health due to being held in isolation. 

After Khanh’s trial on October 25, 2017, several international human rights organizations have made statements condemning his detention and sentencing. “Students should be encouraged to write about social and political problems—not punished,” said Human Rights Watch’s Asia Director, Brad Adams, in a statement released on October 24. “Blogging is not a crime, despite Vietnam’s repeated efforts to treat it as one. Phan Kim Khánh should be released immediately, and the Vietnamese government should recognize that Article 88 is completely inconsistent with international guarantees regarding the right to free expression,” said James Tager, Senior Manager of Free Expression Programs at PEN America, in another release.

May 2020:

Read the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention opinions on Phan Kim Khanh, in which they determine that Khanh’s arrest and detention ar arbitrary. 

Profile last updated: 2023-04-07 19:02:50

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