French-Vietnamese Dissident is Jailed for 3 Years for Subversion

Posted August 10th, 2011 at 9:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A Vietnamese court Wednesday sentenced a French-Vietnamese math professor and blogger to three years in prison on charges of subversion.

Pham Minh Hoang was convicted of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration” at the conclusion of a half-day trial. Authorities say he posted 33 anti-government articles on the Internet, and had ties to Viet Tan, a U.S.-based pro-democracy group that is banned in Vietnam.

The 56-year-old professor testified that he did nothing to overthrow the government and that he joined Viet Tan in France where it is not banned. Hoang has lived in France and also holds French citizenship.

Wednesday's sentencing triggered condemnation from Paris and Washington. The French Foreign Ministry called for an immediate judicial review of Hoang's sentencing, and said he should be released as soon as possible.

The U.S. State Department said no individual should be prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The statement issued Wednesday said Vietnam's prosecution of individuals for expressing their views contradicts the government's commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights group Amnesty International called the verdict and the prison term “outrageous,” while the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) described Hoang as “a citizen who just expressed his views.”

Hoang's wife has said she believes her husband was targeted because of his opposition to a Chinese-run bauxite mine in the Central Highlands, which activists say has caused environmental degradation in the area.

Hoang is set to receive credit for the one year he has already spent in detention awaiting trial. But he faces another three years of house arrest following the end of his prison term.