The moment he stepped out of his Hanoi home on a mid-September afternoon to walk down the narrow alleyway to the bus stop, Dr Nguyen Quang A knew he was in trouble again.
Ten plain-clothes security officers were waiting to intercept the former computer scientist before he could head to the United States embassy for coffee with the ambassador.
“I turned back to my home but three of them chased me, took my arm and pushed me into a car to drive me to the police station,” Dr Quang A, 74, said.
He was grilled for nearly four hours over Facebook posts about the controversial “Dong Tam” case, where a land dispute between villagers and the military led to violent clashes with the police and prompted accusations of state abuse.
This was the 18th time the veteran rights activist had been detained by state security.
In 2016, he was imprisoned in a moving car to ensure he missed a meeting between then US President Barack Obama and leading pro-democracy figures.
History was now repeating itself but with a key difference. In 2016, activists like Dr Quang A felt a tangible hope for change.