Cu Hy Ha Vu and his wife and Mrs. Jennifer Neidhart de Ortiz (an employee of the US Embassy in Vietnam)on his way to Washington DC.
Leading Vietnamese Environmental Defender Freed
EDLC and Boat People SOS are delighted to announce that Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, 56, a lawyer, environmentalist, and pro-democracy activist, has been released from a Vietnamese prison and arrived on April 7, 2014 in Washington, D.C. He will serve as a scholar and fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. EDLC and its partners have been working steadfastly for Dr. Vu’s release for the past three and one-half years.
Dr. Vu became nationally known for his pro-democracy views and for filing a lawsuit challenging construction of a hotel resort on a protected cultural heritage site, and a lawsuit against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for having unlawfully approved a bauxite mining project in Vietnam's Central Highlands that threatened environmental and health harms. He enjoyed extraordinarily broad support among diverse sectors of Vietnamese society, and became a cause célèbre through the power of the internet. Human Rights Watch issued a lengthy report, "Vietnam: The Party vs. Legal Activist Cu Huy Ha Vu," describing the unique elements that made his case Vietnam's most high-profile political trial in decades. Dr. Vu's family's revolutionary credentials made him one of the most prominent people to publicly question the rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
The trial of Dr. Vu in April 2011 lasted less than six hours. He was convicted on charges of "propaganda against the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam" according to Article 88 of the Criminal Code and sentenced by Vietnam's Supreme Court to seven years in prison and an additional three years of probation.
In 2011, EDLC filed legal briefs with both the trial and appeals courts in Vietnam, and alerted the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to the human rights violations in Dr. Vu’s case. The Working Group soon found Dr. Vu´s deprivation of liberty to be arbitrary and to violate human rights treaties to which Vietnam is a party, and urged the government to release him.
EDLC enlisted the support of attorneys at Wilmer Hale, LLP who, on a pro bono basis, have advocated on behalf of Dr. Vu in coordination with EDLC, Boat People SOS, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations.
EDLC is thrilled that Dr. Vu is now free and welcomes him to the United States.
More information about the case can be found on the EDLC website.