Ha Huy Hoang was sentenced after being convicted of providing information to a Chinese intelligence agency in a trial that lasted half a day, said his lawyer, Ha Huy Son.

Son said that Hoang, 55, a former reporter at the ministry's World and Vietnam newspaper, told the court that he did not know the woman he was in contact with worked for China's intelligence agency. He said the information he provided was public and did not involve state secrets.

The information he provided included Vietnam's political and economic policies, as well as the biographies of some of the country's top leaders. He also provided information on the Vietnamese government's handling of anti-China protests following the parking of a Chinese oil rig platform in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Son said the jail sentence imposed on his client was not justified since the evidence against him was not sufficient.

The popular Tuoi Tre newspaper had reported on the court proceedings in its online edition, but removed the story after about two hours. The move underscores the sensitivity of the case, which comes ahead of an expected official visit to Vietnam later this year by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Associated Press - September 30 2015