Cablegate: Reduction in Father Ly's Sentence

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is an action request -- see para 3.

2. (U) Court officials in Ha Nam province on July 17
confirmed media reports that the court had reduced the
cumulative 15 years sentences of Catholic Father Nguyen Van
Ly by five years in recognition of his "good behavior" in
prison. Court officials confirmed that he was in a prison
in Ha Nam province and described him as an "obedient
prisoner." They indicated that this reduction was a "normal
practice" that had not been specifically requested by Father
Ly or his relatives. He will also remain subject to a five
year administrative detention order following his new
release date in 2011.

2. (U) Comment: The GVN clearly believes that it should
win international -- particularly, U.S. -- commendation for
this step, which shows how little senior GVN officials yet
understand the nature of our differences on human rights.
This reduction in sentence is a hollow and perhaps even
counter-productive gesture that will only remind the
international community and members of Congress of this
Catholic priest sentenced to 15 years in prison for nothing
more than speaking his mind. We should be quite frank in
our calls for his release. End Comment.

3. (U) Suggested press guidance: The five year reduction
in Father Nguyen Van Ly's 15 year sentences is a hollow
gesture, since he should never have been tried and
convicted. The GVN should instead immediately release
Father Ly and all other prisoners who have done nothing more
than exercise their right to free speech and other basic

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