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Imprisoned Viet Catholic priest denied Bible, sacramental wine October 31, 2007

A Vietnamese Catholic priest, imprisoned for "spreading propaganda against the socialist state," is being denied access to the Bible, pens and papers, and wine for celebrating Mass behind bars.

The BosNewsLife service, which provides news of Christian prisoners of conscience, reports that Father Nguyen Van Ly remains in solitary confinement in a prison camp in northern Vietnam. The jailed priest has warned his sister that she should not put his clerical title on packages sent to him, because prison authorities refuse to recognize his priestly status. The reason, he explained, is that the government insists that it "does not imprison the Church's people."

Father Ly was sentenced to an 8-year prison term in March 2007, after a court found him guilty of criticizing the Vietnamese government and sending his criticisms to pro-democracy workers abroad.

Father Ly, who has now spent 14 years in prison, gained international prominence in 2001 with a letter to a US congressional committee in which he detailed human-rights abuses in Vietnam and argued against American approval of a bilateral trade pact.

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