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Catholic World News News Feature

Vietnam reduces prison term for jailed priest June 17, 2004

Vietnam's Communist government this week cut the sentence in half for a Catholic priest in jailed for speaking out about persecution of Christians.

Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, 58, had sent a letter to the US Congress in 2001 to urge delay in the ratification of a bilateral trade agreement, citing Vietnam's human rights violations and persecution of religious believers. He was later arrested and in October was sentenced to 15 years in prison. That sentence was eventually reduced to 10 years, and now a local court has ordered the jail term cut to five years in prison and five years of house arrest, according to the state-run Vietnam News Agency.

The report cited Father Ly's "good attitude and conduct" and compliance with prison rules. Human rights groups have listed Father Ly as a prisoner of conscience and the US government has been pressing for his release. The announcement comes just as European Union diplomats are about to visit Vietnam for a meeting on human rights, including a discussion on the treatment of prisoners.

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