Le Cong Dinh is a prominent lawyer and former deputy president of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association. He runs a private law
firm in Ho Chi Minh City. In November 2007 he represented human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, two
other prominent prisoners of conscience, at the appeal court hearing against their sentences. He argued that Article 88, under
which the two were charged, is unconstitutional and contravenes international human rights treaties that Viet Nam has ratified,
such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should therefore be reviewed.
He also represented Nguyen Hoang Hai, a blogger known as Dieu Cay, who was tried in September 2008 on politically motivated
criminal charges for writing critical articles and calling for respect for human rights. Le Cong Dinh has also been an outspoken
critic of recent bauxite-extraction in the Central Highlands, as well as calling for political reform in Viet Nam.
Le Cong Dinh has been charged with "conducting propaganda" against the state, under Article 88 of the Penal Code. If convicted,
he faces a three- to 20-year prison sentence. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right
to freedom of expression.
The Vietnamese authorities have sentenced at least 30 dissidents, including a number of lawyers, to long prison terms since
2006 in an attempt to stifle freedom of expression and association. Most are supporters of an internet-based pro-democracy
movement, Bloc 8406, or other unauthorized groups calling for democracy and human rights. The majority have been sentenced
to imprisonment under the national security section of the 1999 Penal Code, with additional sentences of up to five years of
house arrest on release from prison. An unknown number of dissidents are in custody awaiting trial.
Articles of the Penal Code used to criminalize peaceful political dissent include Article 80 (Spying), 87 (Undermining the unity
policy), and 88 (Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam).
In May 2009, the UN Human Rights Council considered Viet Nam under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Viet Nam rejected
the recommendations of other states to allow greater freedom of expression and to reform national security laws which limit
freedom of expression, among others.