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Father Nguyen Van Ly

Human rights campaigner Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, who was jailed by Vietnamese authorities, was recently released. Thankfully, after having spent most of the past two decades in detention due to his relentless pursuit of democracy and religious freedom, the elderly church leader (born August 31, 1947) was finally released from a prison in central Hue province after his fourth stint behind bars.

During long periods of incarceration, sometimes in solitary confinement, he suffered numerous health problems, including strokes and partial paralysis. His long-awaited release took place three months before the end of an eight-year prison sentence for "anti-state propaganda," which comes under a section of the criminal code that human rights groups say is vaguely worded and used to punish outspoken critics.

The human rights activist has been on the receiving end of some of the country's harshest verdicts, stemming from his opposition to the political monopoly of the Communist party and his stand against the government confiscation of church property. Over the years, he set up a pro-democracy movement, campaigning for democracy and freedom of speech. You can review a previous report on his case by going to this page.