Ms. Do Thi Thu, wife of activist Trinh Ba Phuong, has just confirmed to VOA that her husband has been transferred from a prison in Hanoi to the National Psychiatric Hospital 1 for psychiatric assessment because Mr. Phuong remained silent, “does not answer” nor “does not cooperate” when being questioned and investigated.
“On March 19, 2021, I went to the Detention Center No. 1 operated by the Hanoi Police Department. They told me that my husband had been moved. I asked where they did move him but they said they don’t know. Today, March 22, 2021, I called back to the security team that investigated my husband’s case, they said my husband was sent to the Central Psychiatric Hospital 1 for a psychiatric assessment,” Thu told VOA.
Activist Trinh Ba Phuong was arrested along with his mother, Ms. Can Thi Theu, and younger brother Trinh Ba Phuong on June 24, 2020, on charges of “Making, possessing, distributing or disseminating information and materials and articles aimed at combating the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” according to Article 117 of the Criminal Code.
Earlier in February 2020, Mr. Phuong had a meeting lasting about 2 hours with the representative of the US Embassy in Hanoi to present details of the raid on Dong Tam which led to the death of Mr. Le. Dinh Kinh and three police officers on January 9, 2020.
Mr. Phuong and his family were among the rare major sources outside the state source to provide and update information from villagers in Dong Tam during the time before and after the deadly raid.
Ms. Do Thi Thu told VOA that since her husband was arrested, she visited Mr. Phuong and other family members many times, but she was only allowed to send clothes but never met anyone.
“I also asked why my husband was transferred there (Psychiatric Hospital), they said that the Procuratorate based on some reasons like my husband refused to cooperate but remains silent when investigators asked,” Ms. Thu added.
Before his arrest, Mr. Phuong stated that if arrested, he would keep the right to remain silent until he met a lawyer, his pre-arrest condition was completely healthy and he had no intention of committing suicide while in custody.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security previously announced that according to the initial investigation results, the ministry determined that “the accused engaged in editing, posting and distributing video clips, articles with fabricated content, causing confusion among the people for the purpose of fighting against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
Phuong was not the first activist to be transferred to a psychiatric hospital during his detention. Before that, Mr. Le Anh Hung, blogger of VOA Radio, was also transferred to the Central Psychiatric Hospital 1. It is reported that Mr. Hung has recently been in solitary confinement because he refused to take psychiatric drugs. Mr. Le Anh Hung was arrested in July 2018 on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State.”