Nguyễn Văn Hải

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Nguyễn Văn Hải
Bornc. 1952
Other namesNguyen Hoang Hai, Dieu Cay
OrganizationClub for Free Journalists
Known for2008 imprisonment
Spouse(s)Duong Thi Tan

Nguyễn Văn Hải (born c. 1952; also known as Nguyen Hoang Hai), better known by his pen name Điếu Cày,[1][2] is a Vietnamese blogger who has been prosecuted by the government of Vietnam for tax evasion and "disseminating anti-state information and materials".[3] His imprisonment was protested by several international human rights organizations, and Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.[3] On 21 October 2014, he was released.


Nguyen Van Hai publishes his reporting through a blog, Dieu Cay ("Peasant's Pipe"),[2] which also serves as his pen name.[4] He is a founding member of the Club for Free Journalists, created in September 2007.[5] In 2008, he participated in[4] as well as reported on[2] Vietnamese protests against the Beijing Olympics following a China-Vietnam maritime dispute.[3]

Arrest and prosecution[edit]

Hai was arrested on 20 April 2008 in Ho Chi Minh City, and his computers and files were confiscated. He was then charged with tax evasion and sentenced to thirty months' imprisonment.[3]

He was scheduled for release in October 2010, but on the day of his release, his sentence was extended "pending further investigation".[2] His home was allegedly also raided and his wife Duong Thi Tan beaten.[6] On 5 July 2011, Duong Thi Tan was informed that Nguyen Van Hai had lost one of his arms due to an injury sustained in prison.[6]

In April 2012, he was brought to an additional trial for "spreading anti-government propaganda" along with bloggers Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai. Nguyen Van Hai pleaded not guilty.[3] According to the state newspaper Thanh Nien, Nguyen Van Hai and Phan Thanh Hai were also believed to have attended a training seminar sponsored by the overseas opposition party Viet Tan.[3]

International reactions[edit]

Human Rights Watch condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the three bloggers.[5] In 2009, the group awarded Nguyen Van Hai its Hellman-Hammett Award "for writers who have suffered persecution as a result of their writings".[5] Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience, expressing concern at reports of his weight loss and deteriorating health.[3]

On 6 March 2012, former U.S. Representative Joseph Cao organized a Vietnamese-American lobbying effort for Hai, Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Dan Que, and other Vietnamese political prisoners, calling on the administration of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to take a stronger stand on their behalf.[7] In April, Civil Rights Defenders named him its Human Rights Defender of the Month.[8] On 17 April, a US State Department spokeswoman called on Vietnam to release Nguyen Van Hai and the other bloggers, stating that the three had "done nothing more than exercise their universally recognized rights to freedom of expression".[9] U.S. President Barack Obama said in May 2012 that "we must not forget journalists like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam"[1]

In 2013, he was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.[10]

Trial and sentence[edit]

In September 2012, in a one-day trial of three dissidents including Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai, Nguyen Van Hai received the harshest sentence of twelve years in prison.[11] The Economist described the session as looking "very much like an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial".[12] Prosecutors stated that the three had "distorted the truth about State and Party, created anxiety among citizens and supported schemes to overthrow the government", while the court found that they were "seriously affecting national security and the image of the country in the global arena."[12] Phan Thanh Hai, who had pleaded guilty, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment, and Ta Phong Tan to ten years.[12]

Nguyen Van Hai's former wife, Duong Thi Tan, stated that police detained her and her son for several hours to prevent them from attending the trial.[11]

The sentences were upheld by an appeals court on 28 December 2012.[13]


On 21 October 2014, Hai was released by the Vietnamese authorities and sent to the United States.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dissident On Hunger Strike". Radio Free Asia. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  2. ^ a b c d "Three Vietnamese journalists given antistate charges". Committee to Protect Journalists. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Vietnamese bloggers deny charges, third in leniency bid". BBC News. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b Chan Nhu; Viet Long & Rachel Vandenbrink (16 April 2012). "Bloggers Face Further Imprisonment". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Vietnam: Immediately Release Rights Bloggers". Human Rights Watch. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Concerns rise about jailed Vietnamese blogger". Committee to Protect Journalists. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  7. ^ Jonathan Tilove (7 March 2012). "Former Rep. Anh 'Joseph' Cao urges tougher line against Vietnam". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Human rights defender of the month – Nguyen Van Hai aka Dieu Cay". Civil Rights Defenders. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  9. ^ "US urges Vietnam to free bloggers". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  10. ^ "CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2013". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Vietnam jails dissident bloggers". BBC News. 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  12. ^ a b c L.H. (4 October 2012). "Bloggers flogged". The Economist. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Court appeal of dissident Vietnam bloggers is rejected". BBC News. 28 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Vietnamese political blogger Dieu Cay receives hero's welcome in the US after prison release". ABC. 2014-10-22. Retrieved 2014-10-24.