Vietnam refuses to free priest in annual amnesty

Fr Ly being gagged in court that sent him back to prison.

Fr Ly being gagged in court that sent him back to prison.

The Vietnamese government will free more than 5000 prisoners as part of an annual prison amnesty program to mark the country's National Day on Wednesday, but the government isn't budging on the detention of a dissident priest.

Father Nguyen Van Ly, who was sentenced to eight years in 2007 for anti-government activities after he helped organise a pro-democracy party, would not be released this time because he lacks "sincere repentance," Vice Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem was quoted as saying in an Associated Press report.

Activists and politicians around the globe, including David Alton and US Senators, have called for Fr Nguyen's release since his incarceration and trial. He was not represented by a lawyer and he was repeatedly silenced during his trial in July, the report said.

The prisoners include four Chinese nationals, one from the United States and two from Canada. The government did not release their names or disclose their crimes.

Among the prisoners are 794 women and 13 reported "national security offenders", the Vietnam News Agency is quoted reporting by Thanh Nien News.

Source: Thanh Nien News

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