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Relatives of jailed Vietnamese priest sentenced to prison September 10, 2003

Three family members of a jailed Vietnamese priest were handed prison sentences on Wednesday, officials said.

Court officials in Ho Chi Minh City said the two nephews and a niece of Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly were found guilty in one-day trials of providing "reactionary" organizations in the US with information about religious freedom in the Communist country. Nguyen Thi Hoa will be jailed for three years, Nguyen Truc Cuong for four years, and Nguyen Vu Viet for five years. They were arrested in June 2001, shortly after their uncle was detained.

Human rights groups have said the siblings' arrests were directly related to official ire against Father Van Ly.

Father Van Ly was arrested after a statement he wrote was read before Congress during debate over Vietnam's human rights and religious freedom situation. He is serving a 10-year jail sentence that was handed down earlier this year.

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