CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 June 2018

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Vietnam sends human rights lawyer into exile

HANOI (UCAN): Prominent rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and fellow jailed Brotherhood for Democracy group member, Le Thu Ha, were released from prison in Hanoi late on June 7 and, together with Nguyen’s wife, Vu Minh Khanh, were taken to the airport and put on a flight bound for Frankfurt, Germany, according to a pro-democracy group.
 
The human rights lawyer was arrested on 16 December 2015 and charged with attempting to overthrow the communist government and in April was sentenced to 15 years in prison and another five years of probation. Le, Nguyen’s former assistant, was arrested at the same time and given a nine-year jail term followed by another three years under house arrest.
 
Their reported release came a day after 90 non-government organisations wrote to the European Union calling on the bloc to reject a touted free trade agreement with Vietnam until it releases all political prisoners and upholds human rights.
 
Hanoi claims there are no political prisoners in Vietnam.
 
Both Nguyen and Le, were said to be in poor health after having been detained in prison for 30 months.
 
A Catholic priest, who wished requested anonymity, said the government likely exiled the pair “because it could not break their will.”
 
The priest said, “They bravely refused to accept their unfair sentences and to give up their calls for democracy and rights despite having suffered extreme persecution from the government.” 
 
The priest said Nguyen helped form the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2013 to spread human rights and democratic values in Vietnam.

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