French-Vietnamese professor Pham Minh Hoang has been deported to Paris, according to his wife and supporters of the former political prisoner.
Agence France-Press quoted Hoang’s wife Kieu Oanh as saying the blogger and former math lecturer was put on a plane to Paris late Saturday, after the Vietnamese government took the rare step of stripping him of his citizenship last month.
“My husband left Vietnam at 11:30 last night, on a direct flight to Paris,” Le Thi told AFP Sunday.
The agency quoted Oanh as saying Hoang was granted access to a lawyer before departing, but that she was not allowed to see him.
“I feel totally defeated… when my husband left, I couldn’t say any farewell words, I also feel very angry,” she said.
U.S.-based banned opposition party Viet Tan said Hoang was expected to arrive in Paris early Sunday and condemned the presidential decree that stripped his citizenship and violated Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The vaguely worded decision was a thinly veiled move to silence Pham Minh Hoang for his peaceful advocacy,” Viet Tan said in a statement.
Hoang is the first known case of Vietnamese authorities officially revoking an individual’s citizenship based on their political views.
“By stripping political dissident Pham Minh Hoang’s citizenship and forcing him on to a plane to France, Hanoi has committed a blatantly illegal, rights violating act that deserves forceful, worldwide condemnation,” Human Rights Watch said in response to the deportation.
“For Vietnam, this unprecedented and shocking action crosses many human rights red lines on freedom of expression, right to nationality, and exercise of basic civil and political freedoms,’ HRW said.
Hoang lived in France as an international student from 1973 until the late 1990s, when he returned to Ho Chi Minh City to teach at the Saigon University of Science and Technology.
He spent 17 months in prison for “undermining national security” and “ruining the nation’s image” through writings critical of Vietnam’s government, before being released in January 2012 and serving three years of probation.
Hoang told AFP he had continued to publish “peaceful” articles on social media that were critical of the government since his release from prison.
Vietnam routinely jails bloggers, lawyers and activists authorities accuse of anti-government activity.