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Catholic World News News Feature

Vietnam reduces jailed priest's sentence by five years July 17, 2003

Vietnam's Communist government has reduced the 20-year-sentence of a Catholic priest who was jailed for sending a letter to the US Congress about the lack of religious freedom in the Asian country.

Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2001 after he testified in a deposition to Congress to urge delay in the ratification of a bilateral trade agreement, citing Vietnam's human rights violations and persecution of religion. The US had requested the release of Father Van Ly after he was arrested, but the Communist government refused.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper reported on Thursday that Father Van Ly's sentence had been reduced by five years. The action was seen as part of a softening of the government's stand on outspoken religious leaders. Last month, the government released a prominent dissident Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Do, from a two-year house arrest several months early.

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