In writing 33 articles under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc, Long said Hoang was “blackening the image of the country”, with an aim to overthrow the government. France’s foreign ministry had previously voiced “serious concern” about the case.
Hoang is the latest of dozens of peaceful political critics to be sent to prison since Vietnam began to crack down on freedom of expression in late 2009, according to Amnesty International.
He asked for leniency, saying he did not know that he was violating the law. “My writings were not aimed to overthrow anyone,” he testified. “I only pointed out the negative things in society, and I think the country needs to be more democratic”.
The year that Hoang has already spent in custody will count towards his sentence, and will be followed by three years of house arrest. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.