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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van Dai is a Vietnamese human rights lawyer and blogger. He founded the Committee for Human Rights in 2006 and the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2013. Dai has travelled throughout Vietnam to teach law students and train young human rights defenders on human rights reporting mechanisms and how to deal with police interrogation.

Dai was taken into custody in the morning of December 16, 2015. According to his wife, he was on his way to meet with European Union representatives involved in the bilateral human rights dialogue held the previous day. Dai was taken back to his house by plainclothes police officers, where he was confronted by two dozen other police officers. A search warrant was produced and signed by Dai and his wife, who noted the charges to which Dai did not agree. Police confiscated two laptops, a desktop computer and several USB sticks.

Dai was previously tried in May 2008 for “conducting propaganda against the state,” sentenced to five years in prison (later reduced to four) and forced to close his offices. He was released to four years of house arrest on March 9, 2011, and barred from practicing law. Dai concluded his house arrest in March 2015 but still experienced regular police harassment, physical attacks, and surveillance. The week before the December 2015 arrest, Dai was beaten with wooden clubs, had his possessions taken and was left stranded on a beach after conducting training and facilitating a human rights forum in Nghe An Province.

Since his arrest, Dai has been held in incommunicado. Authorities have not allowed his wife to visit him. In December an attorney submitted the paperwork to be Dai's defense lawyer, but the Ministry of Public Security declined the request. Currently, Dai has not been given legal representation. 

Dai was the recipient of Human Rights Watch’s Hellman-Hammett Award and Vietnam Human Rights Network’s Human Rights Award in 2007.

Nguyen Van Dai has been RELEASED.

Advocate: Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)


  • Six Vietnamese rights activists, including Nguyen Van Dai, will appear in the People’s Court of Hanoi on Thursday. The six men have been charged with "carrying out activities that aim to overthrow the people’s administration." (April 4, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)
  • A court in Hanoi opened trial of Nguyen Van Dai and five other activists accused of attempting to overthrow the government. The trial is expected to last two days, and the activists face the death penalty if convicted. Foreign press and diplomats are barred from the trial. (April 5, 2018, ABC News)
  • Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of "attempting to overthrow" the Vietnamese government. (April 5, 2018, BBC News)
  • UN experts have urged Vietnam not to crack down on civil society or stifle dissent, after the authorities jailed several human rights defenders, including Nguyen Van Dai for “conducting activities to overthrow the people’s government." (April 12, 2018, UN News)
  • Nguyen Van Dai and a fellow member of the Brotherhood for Democracy were released from prison late on Thursday, June 7 and put on a plane from Hanoi to Germany. (June 7, 2018, Radio Free Asia)