Vietnam: Editor and priest Nguyen Van Ly sentenced to eight years in prison

English PEN protests the 8 year prison sentence handed down to magazine editor and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly on 30 March 2007.


PEN considers Father Nguyen Van Ly to be detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.


Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and co-editor of the underground online magazine Tu do Ngôn luan (Free Speech), was arrested on 19 February 2007 during an ‘administrative check’ at the archdiocesan building where he lives in the central city of Hue. Two other editors of Tu do Ngôn luan, Father Chan Tin and Father Phan Van Loi, were reportedly placed under house arrest but are thought to have been subsequently released.  According to Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), about 60 police officers searched the building and removed electronic equipment and documents. Father Ly reportedly went on hunger strike in pre-trial detention, causing concern for his physical welfare.


According to PEN’s information, Father Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment on charges of ‘extremely serious violations against national security’ by a People’s Court in Hue on 30 March 2007. Four other people who assisted him in producing a dissident publication entitled Tu do Ngon luan were accused of ‘propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’. Two of them were given prison sentences of five and six years and the remaining two, both women, were given eighteen months suspended jail terms. A video of the trial, with commentary in Vietnamese, is available (


Ly, a leading member of the pro-democracy movement ‘Bloc 8406’, was previously detained from 1977-1978, and again from 1983-1992 for his activism in support of freedom of expression and religion. In October 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his online publication of an essay on human rights violations in Vietnam and was a chief International PEN case. The sentence was commuted several times and he was released under amnesty in February 2005.


Please send appeals:

– Expressing serious concern about the 8 year imprisonment sentence given to editor Father Nguyen Van Ly, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory;
– Seeking assurances that Father Ly is given unrestricted access to medical treatment and is being treated humanely in detention.




His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam


Prime Minister Nguyên Tân Dung
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam


Lê Doan Hop, Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam


It may be most effective, however, to forward these appeals to the Vietnamese embassy in London:

His Excellency Mr Trinh Duc Du
12-14 Victoria Road
London W8 5RD
Fax: (020) 7565 3853


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