New York, June 26, 2017–Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang should restore blogger Pham Minh Hoang’s citizenship and should allow him to reside and work freely in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Hoang told The Associated Press that police officers burst into his house the night of June 23, took him to a detention center, and forced him on a plane to Paris the following day. Hoang, a university math teacher and blogger associated with the California-based Viet Tan opposition group, holds French citizenship.
According to Deutsche Presse-agentur, President Quang revoked Hoang’s Vietnamese citizenship on May 17, but according to Reuters, Hoang learned of the decision only on June 1, from the French consul-general. The blogger unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the decision and to remain in Vietnam, according to media reports. Hoang told the AP that when he refused deportation, officials reminded him that his wife and daughter were still living in Vietnam.
“Stripping Pham Minh Hoang of his Vietnamese citizenship and forcing him to leave the country are exceptionally cruel responses to dissent,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Vietnam should allow Hoang to return home to his family and should cease trying to silence voices it does not want heard.”
Hoang told the AP that he will continue his political activism from France, though he hopes he will be able to return to Vietnam.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang last week said the decision to revoke Hoang’s citizenship was justified because it was “conducted in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law,” Reuters reported. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry and Vietnam’s Embassy to the United States did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment.
Police arrested Hoang in 2010 and charged him with attempting to overthrow the government, citing 33 articles he had written under his pen name, Phan Kien Quoc, in which he criticized one-party rule, alleged corruption, environmental degradation, and Chinese influence. He was initially sentenced to three years in prison, but was released in January 2012 to serve three years under house arrest, having spent 17 months in prison, in recognition of his cooperation with authorities and renunciation of the Viet Tan. According to media reports the blogger did not stop publishing.