Dissident Priest Released in Vietnam

A dissident Vietnamese priest, the Rev. Nguyen Van Ly, who has spent three years behind bars for pro-democracy efforts and suffered two strokes in detention, was released on March 15 from a prison near Hanoi and driven in an ambulance back to his hometown of Hue, according to his sister, Nguyen Thi Hieu (pictured). She said he was in better health than the last time she saw him. Father Nguyen had suffered strokes in July and November and for a time was unable to walk. In 2007 he was sentenced to eight years in prison for disseminating anti-government propaganda during a dramatic trial in which police muzzled him for shouting anti-Communist slogans and accusing Vietnamese officials of practicing “the law of the jungle.” The priest has spent more than 15 years in prison since 1977, according to Freedom Now, a Washington-based law firm that serves as Ly’s international counsel.

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