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Vietnamese-French dissident blogger deported to France

June 25, 2017

A Vietnamese dissident blogger with dual French citizenship who arrived in Paris on Sunday said he was “still in shock” after being stripped of his birth nationality by authorities in the one-party state and expelled.

Former mathematics lecturer Pham Minh Hoang was put on a plane to Paris late Saturday, weeks after his Vietnamese citizenship was revoked — a rare move that has sparked outrage among critics of the communist government who accuse it of quashing dissent by any means available.

“I’m still in shock, very sad,” he said after his arrival in the French capital.

“But I will try to live, to continue the struggle, that’s my raison d’etre,” he added during a rally in his support by members of the Vietnamese community in Paris.

“They accuse me of seeking to overthrow the regime because of the texts I write. I write to promote democracy, to criticise corruption, to denounce the Chinese invasion, economically, politically and also militarily.”

Hoang said police surrounded his house on Friday night and took him away with no prior warning.

He met French consular officials and a lawyer before his deportation but was unable to say goodbye to his wife Le Thi Kieu Oanh.

“I feel totally defeated… when my husband left, I couldn’t tell him goodbye,” Oanh told AFP. “I am also very angry”.

After speaking to Hoang on arrival in France, Oanh said she was at least reassured he no longer faced political persecution.

While authoritarian Vietnam routinely jails critics of its regime, 62-year-old Hoang is the first Vietnam-based dissident to have his citizenship revoked in recent history.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the revocation an “unprecedented and shocking action”.

It “crosses many human rights red lines on freedom of expression, right to nationality and exercise of basic civil and political freedoms,” HRW said in its statement.

Hoang found out he’d been stripped of his Vietnamese citizenship early this month, after he received a letter dated May 17 and signed by the president, a decision he unsuccessfully tried to appeal.

He was convicted in 2011 of attempted subversion for publishing a series of articles which prosecutors said were aimed at overthrowing the government.

Hoang was released from jail after 17 months and ordered to serve three years of house arrest. He continued to post articles critical of the government on social media following his release from prison.

Hoang moved to France in 1973 and lived there for 27 years before returning to Vietnam to work as a mathematics lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Ho Chi Minh City.

He had told AFP earlier this month he had to stay in Vietnam to care for his disabled brother and elderly mother in law, whom his wife will now look after.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.