A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Vietnam authorities release dissident priest from prison

[JURIST] Vietnamese authorities on Monday released a Catholic priest and leading rights activist from Hanoi prison. Father Nguyen Van Ly [Freedom Now profile] was released early Monday morning and has been reunited with his family in Hue. Ly had been arrested and charged in 2007 under Article 88 of Vietnam's Penal Code [text], which provides for the incarceration of individuals involved in "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." Ly was sentenced [JURIST report] to eight years' imprisonment for distributing anti-government documents and communicating with foreign pro-democracy activists. He suffered two strokes [AI press release] in 2009 that left him partially paralyzed. Calls for Ly's release included a June 2009 letter [text, PDF] from 37 US senators addressed to President Nguyen Minh Triet. Ly is known as one of the founders of Vietnamese pro-democracy movement Bloc 8406. Ly's international counsel Freedom Now [advocacy website] has praised him as a "prisoner of conscience" [press release, PDF].

Ly's release comes days after the release [JURIST report] of leading Vietnamese rights lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. No clear connection has been identified between the two incidents, but the releases happen in the midst of what some rights groups such as Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] have termed [press release] a "campaign to silence dissent." At least 16 activists have been jailed in the last few months. Despite the releases of Ly and Nhan, other high-profile activists, such as human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai [JURIST report], are still serving sentences.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.