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Pell lends support to embattled Vietnamese priest

Sydney's Archbishop George Pell has lent his voice to calls for the Vietnamese government to release Fr Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, a campaigner for religious freedom.

The Catholic Weekly reports that, in a letter to Vietnam's Australian Ambassador, he said: "On behalf of the Catholic community in Australia, I formally protest Fr Ly's arrest and the long campaign of persecution and harassment that he and others working for religious freedom in Vietnam have suffered at the hands of authorities.

"I ask you to convey this request to the government of Vietnam. I request that Fr Ly be immediately released from prison."

Fr Ly, a well-known campaigner against the Vietnamese government's religious repression, was imprisoned for one year in 1977-78 and for nine years (May 1983 to July 1992) for "opposing the revolution and destroying the people's unity".

His current situation stems from his appeal to the US Congress not to ratify a bilateral trade agreement between Vietnam and the US because of the lack of respect for human rights and freedom of religion in Vietnam.

He had also been under instruction not to carry out any religious activity, but had continued to carry out his parish responsibilities.

Catholic Weekly