A Vietnamese journalist who worked for a government-run newspaper received a six-year prison sentence on Wednesday in Hanoi on charges of spying for China, his attorney said.
Ha Huy Hoang, 55, who worked for the publication World and a newspaper published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was arrested in October 2014 for providing information to China.
The Hanoi prosecutor’s office charged him with espionage under Article 80 of Vietnam’s criminal code, Hoang’s lawyer Ha Huy Son told RFA’s Vietnamese Service after the trial ended in the morning.
During the trial, Hoang testified that he was told to say what the investigators wanted him to say and that the investigation report did not reflect what he actually had said, according to Son.
The attorney also noted that prosecutors failed to prove two key points. First, they did not provide evidence that Hoang provided documents to China, and that China used the information against the Vietnamese government.
Prosecutors also did not prove that Hoang really wanted to help China in any efforts directed against the Vietnamese government, he said.
“They could not prove these two points, Son said. “What they had was only based on what the defendant said during the investigation process. According to Article 12 of our litigation law, a defendant’s statements provided during the investigation process cannot be regarded as the only evidence in court.”
State newspapers removed articles about the trial from their websites in the afternoon.
According to state media, in 2009, Hoang was introduced to a Chinese journalist who worked for a newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party.
He provided the journalist with information about Vietnam’s internal affairs as well as the country’s high-ranking officials, and received gifts from the Chinese press during six visits to the nation.
Vietnam and China have been engaged in a lengthy dispute over sovereignty of the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea.
Last year, Vietnam vehemently opposed the stationing of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters, which caused minor maritime confrontations and deadly rioting on Vietnam’s mainland.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.