Van Kham Chau at a trial in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019 (Image: Nhan Huu Sang/VNA via AP)

Three years ago this month, Chau Van Kham left Australia for Vietnam. He never returned. The 72-year-old Australian was arrested within hours of entering the country. In 2019, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for terrorism charges. Since his arrest, his family have never spoken to him. Limited visits from consular officials and Kham’s family in Vietnam were suspended last year amid a growing COVID outbreak in the country.

“We’re assured that things are happening, and that the government hasn’t forgotten him,” Kham’s lawyer Dan Phuong Nguyen tells Crikey. 

“But in light of any positivity, the fact that we’ve had no direct contact with him, and the last consular visit was last year, I really don’t know whether we can hold hope if we can ever see him again.”