Police Say Blogger Nguyen Van Hoa Refuses to Have Lawyer

By Defend the Defenders, June 23, 2017

Vietnam’s police have said that imprisoned blogger Nguyen Van Hoa had rejected to have own lawyer even who his family had hired to defend him, human rights lawyer Ha Huy Son has said.

The Hanoi-based lawyer who was hired by Hoa’s family to defend him, said when he asked authorities in Ha Tinh to grant a permission for him, the police said Hoa needs no lawyer but will defend himself.

However, police have not provided any written confirmation from Hoa.

Some activists, including former prisoner of conscience Bui Thi Minh Hang doubted Hoa’s decision, saying his family needs to meet him to clarify this refusal. When she was detained in a trumped-up case of “causing public disorder” four years ago, police also provided wrong information to public that she did not plan to hire lawyers while in fact she demanded to have a number of lawyers to defend her in the politicized case.

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s authorities changed the charge against blogger Hoa, from “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 to “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code. With the new charge, Hoa will face severe punishment which is up to 20 years if he is convicted, according to Vietnam’s current law.

Hoa, who was the first blogger to use flycam to report peaceful demonstrations of Ha Tinh residents against Formosa, was arrested on January 11. He was said to make confession, admitting wrongdoings and beg for mercy.

Many international human rights organizations have called for his immediate and unconditional release, saying he did nothing wrong but exercised his basic rights of freedom of press.

For more information about Hoa’s case, please see our archive: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/category/nguyen-van-hoa-ky-anh/