Vietnamese priest jailed for eight years

 Vietnamese priest, Fr Nguyen Van Ly, 60, has been sentenced to an eight-year jail term after being convicted of 'spreading propaganda' against the communist country following what authorities described as an 'open trial'. The BBC reports that Fr Ly, who has already spent 14 years in prison, was under house arrest since early February. His trial lasted one day. Four co-defendants received prison terms ranging from 18 months suspended to six years. Nguyen Phong was sentenced to six years in prison and three years under probation and Nguyen Binh Thanh, five years in prison and two years under probation, Vietnam News Agency said. Fr Ly was last jailed in 2001 after he urged the US to link its trade policy with Vietnam's human rights record. He was released as part of an amnesty in 2005. Father Ly is a founding member of Bloc 8406, a pro-democracy movement launched last April. He is also a member of the Progression Party. Leading members of both groups have been detained in recent months. An envoy from the Vatican raised the case of Father Ly with the authorities during a visit to Vietnam earlier this month, but the envoy would not say what Vietnam's response was. State media has accused Father Ly and other pro-democracy activists of trying to undermine the Communist Party by forming illegal parties to field candidates in National Assembly elections in May. Only the Communist Party is allowed to stand, although a small number of seats are reserved for non-party members. Source: BBC/Church Resources/VNA

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