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Viet bishops deny government claim they supported priest's prosecution July 13, 2007

The Catholic bishops of Vietnam have denied a statement by the country's leader that they agreed to the prosecution of a dissident priest, the AsiaNews service reports.

Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Triet, speaking during a recent trip to the US, said that the Vietnamese bishops had supported the government's legal case against Father Nguyen van Ly, a democracy campaigner. "If we had violated religious freedom, the bishops' conference would have spoken out against it," he said; "In fact they agreed with us."

In a letter to the Vietnamese leader, released through the Viet Catholic Network, Msgr. Paul Nguyen Van Hoa, the chairman of the country's episcopal conference, said flatly that the president's statement "does not correspond to the truth."

[For a more detailed report see the AsiaNews web site.]