Nguy Thi Khanh

Current Status: Released - at risk

Photo of Nguy Thi Khanh

Other Names: Nguỵ Thị Khanh

Date of Birth: June 15, 1976

Gender: F

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: NGO worker

Last Known Prison: Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1, Hanoi

Areas of Activism:

  • Environment

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Former Political Prisoner

May 2023:

Nguy Thi Khanh was released early from prison. In a stunning development that took everyone by surprise, the former leader of the NGO GreenID announced on Facebook that she has been reunited with her family. Arrested in January 2022, Khanh was sentenced to two years in prison on “tax evasion” charges, even though, as a recent report by Project 88 meticulously pointed out, her unusual conviction was most likely due to political considerations. It is not yet known what prompted the authorities to release her months early.


Ahead of Earth Day, we released our new report, Weaponizing the law to prosecute the Vietnam Four, which details our investigation into the charges of tax evasion against four prominent climate activists, finding those prosecutions to be politically-motivated. The Washington Post Editorial Board highlighted the report and has called for the activists’ release from prison.

The Vietnamese version of the report is available here.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Contact Information.

Nguy Thi Khanh, 46, is an environmental and human rights activist and a pioneer leader of Vietnam’s environmental movement. 

Khanh graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, and had planned on becoming a diplomat. However, she was always passionate about the environment and, after graduating from college, began working on water conservation issues and community development. 

She has played an instrumental role in shifting Viet Nam from coal and towards renewables and energy efficiency. 

She was a fellow for the Eisenhower Fellowships Global 2019.

Profile photo source: Climate Break Through Project

In 2011, Khanh founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (Green ID) to promote sustainable energy development, and established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), a network of 11 Vietnamese and international environmental and social organizations in order to develop an alternate, more sustainable plan. Green ID is also a member of Vietnam’s Coalition for Climate Action (VCCA).

In 2018, Khanh was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, and in 2019 the Climate Breakthrough Award, in recognition of her scientific research and engagement with Vietnamese state agencies to advocate for sustainable long-term energy projections in Vietnam.

Arrested January 11, 2022. Sentenced to 2 years in prison under Art. 200 (2015 Code). Released May 12, 2023.

January 11, 2022
  • Art. 200 (2015 Code)
Hanoi city public security, Hanoi
Cau Dien Ward, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi (map)
June 17, 2022
Nguyen Danh Hue
2 years in prison
January 11, 2024
May 12, 2023
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • FIDH
  • The 88 Project
  • People in Need
  • US government
  • Professional associations

On January 11, 2022, Khanh was detained for questioning by the Hanoi police together with staff of Green ID, according to our source. While her collaborators were released after interrogation, Khanh was kept in custody. 

Although the incident took place the previous month, her arrest was officially announced by state media on February 9, 2022. She was formally charged with “individual income tax evasion,” which carries a possible seven-year prison sentence under Article 200 of the 2015 Criminal Code. 

The Green ID offices and Khanh’s house were searched by the police and documents and devices were confiscated. She remains in pre-trial detention at Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1, Hanoi. 

It is not known if Khanh's lawyer, Nguyen Danh Hue, has been allowed to see her after multiple requests. Her family has not been granted visitation yet, although they can send her some necessities. 

Khanh's arrest is the fourth one following the arrests of Mai Phan Loi, Bach Hung Duong, and Dang Dinh Bach, who were also charged under Article 200 with “tax evasion.” It is argued that the charges against these civil society organizers are politically motivated. Please refer also to our analysis of these charges in July 2021, here

June 2022:

Nguy Thi Khanh, one of Vietnam’s most prominent environmental experts, was sentenced to two years in prison on “tax evasion” charges. An outspoken critic of the use of coal, Khanh joined three other anti-coal environmental activists who were convicted earlier this year and handed multi-year sentences on what many consider to be trumped up charges of tax evasion. Khanh is the first Vietnamese to receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018, which came with a $200,000 prize. The tax evasion charge stems from the fact that Khanh failed to pay about $18,000 in taxes (10% of the prize). Her husband Manh Nguyen wrote on his Facebook page that the court acknowledged that Khanh said she did not know that the prize money was taxable and that she would gladly pay it. It is not clear if Khanh was represented by a lawyer.

June 2022:

Statement from the U.S. State Department on the punishment against Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Nguy Thi Khanh and other environmentalists in Vietnam.

The Climate Action Network has joined a host of international organizations and governments in condemning the prison sentence handed to anti-coal advocate Nguy Thi Khanh, calling for her release. The International Federation for Human Rights has also called for Khanh’s release in an urgent appeal.

August 2022:

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urges international rights groups to oppose the arrest and conviction of environmental NGO leaders using vague “tax evasion” charges. The FIDH “strongly condemns the unfair convictions, ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Dang Dinh Bach, Mai Phan Loi, Bach Hung Duong and Nguy Thi Khanh, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate environmental and human rights activities.”

September 2022:

Fifty-two Goldman Prize winners penned a powerful and thoroughly convincing letter urging the UN to call for Khanh's release and “to vote against [Vietnam’s] membership into your Council when it comes before the General Assembly” and “use this as an opportunity to demonstrate not only to Vietnam, but to all countries, that the criteria for obtaining an esteemed membership on the Human Rights Council are taken seriously….”

November 2022:

Global Witness featured Khanh in their blog during COP27.

Vietnam’s unjust energy transition. Global Witness; November 8, 2922: At COP27, while Vietnam’s climate leaders are locked up, there may still be discussions around a “Just Energy Transition Partnership’ (JET-P) supported by G7 countries, including the United Kingdom, the EU, United States, and Canada, with Vietnam possibly receiving billions of dollars in the process. …[Nguy Thi Khanh]’s invaluable experience will no doubt be missed at this year’s COP. Her collaborative efforts between civil society, industry and the government has helped put Vietnam in the very position it is in to be considered a partner for significant clean energy deals.

December 2022:

NGO leader Nguy Thi Khanh was named by People In Need as an environmental defender unjustly imprisoned who needs attention and advocacy.

Bắt Giám đốc Trung tâm phát triển sáng tạo xanh GreenID, Phap Luat Ho Chi Minh City, February 9, 2022. 

Bắt bà Ngụy Thị Khanh - giám đốc Trung tâm phát triển sáng tạo xanh GreenID - vì hành vi trốn thuế, Tuoi Tre News, February 9, 2022. 

Giám đốc xã hội dân sự Green ID bị bắt với cáo buộc trốn thuế, Radio Free Asia Vietnamese, February 9, 2022.

Award-winning Vietnamese environmentalist arrested as rights groups fear ‘clamp down’, The Guardian, February 9, 2022. 

Chuyên gia môi trường xanh Ngụy Thị Khanh bị bắt vì ‘trốn thuế’, Voice of America Vietnamese, February 9, 2022.

Bắt các lãnh đạo khối XHDS vì lợi ích nhóm bị đụng chạm và để đe dọa!, Radio Free Asia Vietnamese, February 11, 2022.

U.S. calls on Vietnam to release environmental advocate Nguy Thi Khanh, Reuters, June 19, 2022

Khanh's husband's Facebook post about the tax evasion charges, June 2022

Vietnam: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against four environmental rights defenders, FIDH, August 17, 2022

Goldman Prize Winners Call for Release of Nguy Thi Khanh, September 13, 2022

Vietnam's unjust energy transition, Global Witness, November 8, 2022

The Human Rights Day Call to Action on Behalf of Unjustly Persecuted People, People in Need, December 10, 2022

Weaponizing the law to prosecute the Vietnam Four, Project 88, April 21, 2023

Vietnamese summary of report and Vietnamese full version of report-- Việt Nam vũ khí hoá Luật Hình sự nhằm truy tố Bộ Tứ

Washington Post Editorial Board article, April 2023

'Anh hùng khí hậu' Ngụy Thị Khanh được trả tự do, BBC Vietnamese, May 15, 2023

Khanh's Facebook post about her release

Letter to UNOPS re: failure to protect and respond to arbitrary detention of UNOPS advisors in Vietnam, Project88, Nov. 23, 2023

Profile last updated: 2023-11-24 20:19:12

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