Vu Quang Thuan

Current Status: Sentenced

Photo of Vu Quang Thuan

Other Names: Vũ Quang Thuận, Võ Phù Đổng

Date of Birth: December 5, 1966

Gender: M

Religion: Christian (Catholic)

Ethnicity: Kinh


Latest Prison: Sao prison camp

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Labor rights
  • Maritime sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

  • National Movement to Revive Vietnam

Arrest History

March 2, 2017
January 31, 2018
8 years in prison
  • Art. 88
March 2, 2025
Defense Counsels: Dang Dinh Manh


August 2018:

Political prisoners Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan have been transferred to new prison facilities. Dien was transferred to Prison no. 5 in Thanh Hoa province from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1, 400 km from his family, and Thuan was transferred from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1 to Ba Sao prison in Ha Nam province. The two and their co-defendant, Tran Hoang Phuc, plan to appeal to the Supreme Court after their sentences were upheld on appeal. 

Thuan has previously lived in Malaysia, reportedly having fled there in 2009, but he was living in Hanoi at the time of his arrest. He has been targeted for allegedly helping start the pro-democracy Vietnam Progressive Democratic Movement, along with fellow activists who were arrested in 2009.

Together with Nguyen Van Dien, Vu Quang Thuan is a leading member of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“National Movement to Revive Vietnam”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.

The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests.

On March 2, 2017, Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested.

He was tried on January 31, 2018, by the People's Court of Hanoi together with Nguyen Van Dien and Tran Hoang Phuc. They are were under clause 1 of Art. 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. Thuan received an eight-year sentence. According to the indictment, Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Van Dien were accused of posting 17 video clips on the Internet and possessing materials with anti-socialist state content; Tran Hoang Phuc was accused of helping them in storing the materials and posting 3 of the 17 clips. 

March 2018:

Vu Quang Thuan, Tran Hoang Phuc, and Nguyen Van Dien appealed their January 31, 2018, sentences. 
July 2018:
Thuan and his co-defendants' appeals were denied. Family members were not allowed to attend the appeal trial, and the court still refused to show the videos in question in the indictment; the videos were also blocked at the first trial in January. Defense lawyer Ha Huy Son said of the move: "This left both the convicted men and their lawyers with no way to debate the prosecutors. In other words, the court issued its ruling without considering the evidence, which is a violation of Vietnamese law."

Prior to arrest: Unknown

Authorities claimed a mental health condition as their reason for not bringing Thuan to trial after his 2011 arrest in Malaysia.

July 2018:

Amnesty International condemned the original sentences of Thuan and his co-defendants and called for their dismissal ahead of the appeal trial, with their Senior Director of Global Operations Minar Pimple saying: "These three men have committed no crime; they have merely used social media to express opinions that the authorities do not like – namely by supporting the protection of human rights and social justice in the country." The US Embassy in Vietnam released a statement following the appeal trial expressing disappointment in the outcome. 

Profile last updated: 2018-08-12 23:57:07