DISSIDENT VIETNAMESE PRIEST HANDED 15-YEAR JAIL TERM


2001-10-18
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - Vietnam has sentenced dissident priest Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly to 15 years in prison for "undermining national solidarity," Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Friday. Ly, 60, was sentenced after a closed-door trial in the central Vietnamese city of Hue. His penalty consists of two years' imprisonment for defying a detention order issued in February, 13 years' imprisonment for "undermining national solidarity," and five years' administrative detention to follow. Vietnamese state-owned television showed Ly listening impassively, eyes closed, as the court read out his sentence. He was then led away by police. In February and May, Ly had urged the U.S. Congress in written testimony to postpone approval of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement until Hanoi eases curbs on religion. He was then arrested and held incommunicado for five months until his one-day trial. As part of a wider crackdown on religious leaders, Vietnamese police surrounded Ly's An Truyen Catholic church in Hue and arrested him in May in front of 150 parishioners. Protesting his arrest, several hundred of his followers subsequently traveled together to try to visit him but were turned back as they approached the prison where he was being held. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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